More than 100 of JACOB MINCER'S students and colleagues gathered at Columbia University on Monday to honor the professor, who is
considered a father of labor economics. The occasion was his 80th birthday — and a surprise award of a new annual prize ($50,000) in labor
economics, from the Institute for the Study of Labor, based in Bonn, Germany. KLAUS F. ZIMMERMANN, the institute's director, billed it as a
belated Nobel for a giant in the field.
Professor Mincer helped shape techniques to explain phenomena like wage inequality and the growing earnings gap between well-educated
workers and those with little schooling. Many of his graduate students have become prominent labor economists. One of them, JAMES J.
HECKMAN of the University of Chicago, won a Nobel memorial prize in economics in 2000. Dr. Heckman, one of the conference organizers,
said on Monday that the research that earned him the Nobel was a direct descendant of his mentor's pioneering formulations about human capital.