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Emory Economics Alumni: Making an Impact


Jacob MincerJacob Mincer 50C

Jacob Mincer (1922-2006) was a Holocaust survivor and Emory Economics alumni who is considered one of the fathers of modern labor economics. Mincer was born in Poland in 1922 and moved to Czechoslovakia to attend university in 1938; his studies were interrupted by the 1939 Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and he was forced into various prisons and concentration work camps. After enduring this treacherous and traumatizing experience and picking up fluency in several languages along the way, he secured a job with the U.S. Army as an interpreter.

In 1948, while working as an interpreter, Mincer was awarded a Hillel Foundation scholarship for exceptional survivors and a U.S. visa that he used to complete his undergraduate studies at Emory in two years. He moved on to the University of Chicago to complete some graduate coursework and completed his studies by earning a Ph.D. in economics at Columbia University.

Along with Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, Mincer pioneered the “New Labor Economics,” which emphasizes micro economic theory and econometric testing, which revolutionized the field of labor economics. Influenced by his wife’s medical career, Mincer was also considered a trailblazer for the serious study of the careers of women in the labor market.  He wrote four books along with hundreds of journal articles, papers, and essays. His most prominent work was Schooling, Experience and Earnings (1974), which used Census data from 1950 and 1960 to relate American income distribution to worker education and training.

Some of the awards and accolades Mincer received include: fellow of the American Statistical Association, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Chicago, the first IZA Prize in Labor Economics, and the Career Achievement Award from the University of Chicago's Society of Labor Economists, now known as the Mincer Prize. The Emory University Economics Department is proud to have Jacob Mincer as one of its alumni.