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Gary Stanley BECKER

economist , educator

Gary Becker is an American economist, one of the first to branch into what were traditionally considered topics belonging to sociology, including racial discrimination, crime, family organization, and drug addiction. He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992 and received the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.

Background

BECKER, Gary Stanley was born in 1930 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, United States of America.

Education

Bachelor of Arts Princeton University, 1951. Master of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy University Chicago, 1953, 1955. Honorary Degrees, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1985, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, 1985.

Career

Assistant Professor of Economics, University Chicago, 1954-1957. Assistant Professor, Association Professor, Professor of Economics, Arthur Lehman Professor of Economics, Columbia University, 1957-1960,

1960-1968, 1968-1969. Ford Foundation Visiting Professor of Economics, University Chicago, 1969-1970.

Professor Economics and Sociology, University Chicago, since 1970.

Achievements

  • National Academy of Sciences, USA. A A AS; American Statistical Association. Econometric Society; Executive Board, Mont Pelerin Society.

    Founding Member, Vice president National Academy Education, 1965-1967. W. S. Woytinsky Award, University Michigan, 1965. John Bates Clark Medal, Vice-President, American Economic Association, 1967, 1974.

    Professional Achievement Award, University Chicago Alumni Association, 1968.

Works

Views

The first to provide a neoclassical analysis of discrimination in labour markets. Among the first to develop the implications of human capital theory. After analysing the allocation of time of economic agents, generalised the argument into the so-called ‘new economics of the family’, providing a standard explanation of such phenomena as marriage, divorce, the decision to have children, the decision to educate children, etc.

Quotations: Gary Becker: My work on human capital got into issues of why different children have different opportunities. Some go on to college, some don't. Some drop out very early, some continue on, some are successful, some aren't. It seemed pretty clear to everybody who's thought about the problem, that it's something in the family that makes a difference. So I began to think about it more. I've taken it as given that these children are making these decisions, but I really want to trace it back some steps deeper, into what family they're in, and family choices.

Gary Becker: Crime is a worldwide issue now, that's one thing.

Interests

  • Other Interests

    “When I was a student, I began to read. And when I was about -- again I made a conversion -- up until about 14, 15, I was more athletically oriented, played on a bunch of teams around and was a good student, but had no interest in really intellectual activities. And then, I can't really know why, I had a conversion, began to give up the sports and get more involved in reading. And starting at 16, 17, I read a lot then, at nighttime, going to the library. But as I say, we had no books, but I'd go to the library a lot. Philosophy, whatever kids at that age were interested in, I began to read. And so then I did read a lot, but the books we had, I had to get out of the library and so on. “

Connections

father:
Louis

His father had left school in Montreal after the 8th grade because he was eager to make money. There were only a few books in their house, but his father kept up with the political and financial news, and his older sister read a lot.

mother:
Anna

His mother - whose family emigrated from Eastern Europe to New York City when she was six months old - also left after the 8th grade because girls were not expected to get much education.

Wife:
Guity Nashat

She is a historian of the Middle East.

Sister:
Wendy

Sister:
Natalie

brother:
Marvin

co-author:
Alan Blinder

He wrote a monthly column for Business Week from 1985 to 2004, alternating with liberal Princeton economist Alan Blinder.

co-author:
Judge Richard Posner

In December 2004, Becker started a joint weblog with Judge Richard Posner entitled The Becker-Posner Blog.