Keynote speakers

About professor James Heckman

James J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, a Nobel Memorial Prize winner in economics and an expert in the economics of human development. Through the university’s Center for the Economics of Human Development, he has conducted groundbreaking work with a consortium of economists, developmental psychologists, sociologists, statisticians and neuroscientists showing that quality early childhood development heavily influences health, economic and social outcomes for individuals and society at large. Heckman has shown that there are great economic gains to be had by investing in early childhood development.

Heckman received his B.A. in mathematics from Colorado College in 1965 and his Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University in 1971. Since 1973, he has served as a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, where he directs the Economics Research Center, the Center for the Economics of Human Development, and the Center for Social Program Evaluation at the Harris School of Public Policy. He is a professor of law at the University of Chicago School of Law, senior research fellow at the American Bar Foundation, and research fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Professor Heckman’s work has been devoted to the development of a scientific basis for economic policy evaluation, with special emphasis on models of individuals and disaggregated groups, and to the problems and possibilities created by heterogeneity, diversity and unobserved counterfactual states. In the early 1990s, his pioneering research on the outcomes of people who obtain the GED certificate received national attention. His findings, which found great deficiencies in the alleged value of the degree, spurred debates across the country on the merits of obtaining the certificate.

His recent research focuses on human development and lifecycle skill formation, with a special emphasis on the economics of early childhood development. His research has given policymakers important new insights into such areas as education, job-training programs, minimum-wage legislation, anti-discrimination law, social supports and civil rights.

He is currently editor of the Journal of Political Economy. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Econometric Society, the Society of Labor Economics and the American Statistical Association, and a fellow of the American Academy of Art and Sciences.

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About professor Guy Standing

Guy Standing is a Professorial Research Associate and former Professor of Development Studies at SOAS University of London.

Professor Standing is a founder member and honorary co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), an international non-governmental organisation that promotes basic income, whose members include economists, philosophers and other social scientists from over 50 countries. He has a doctorate in economics from the University of Cambridge and a master’s degree in industrial relations from the University of Illinois. He has written and edited books on labour economics, labour market policy, unemployment, labour market flexibility, structural adjustment policies, and social protection policy.

Professor Standing was coordinating editor and main writer of the ILO’s Economic Security for a Better World, a global report issued in 2004. He is on the editorial advisory boards of several academic journals, including Development and Change and the European Journal of Industrial Relations. He has conducted household and enterprise surveys on labour and economic security issues in over 25 countries, and has advised many governments on the design and implementation of labour force surveys.

Professor Standing was economic adviser in the Prime Minister’s Department in Malaysia in the 1980s, and has worked as a social and labour policy adviser with various other governments around the world.

As of 2017 Guy Standing's work is centred on three key themes:

- basic income, including as a member of the International Advisory Committee for a basic income pilot being carried out by Y-Combinator in Oakland, California.

- the plunder of the commons, including events to celebrate the 800th anniversary in November 2017 of the Charter of the Forest, the first set of laws to grant a right of subsistence on the commons.

- rentier capitalism and the precariat, following up themes from his recent books.

Read more about professor Guy Standing