Gary S. Becker

Awards and Honors:
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Philosophical Society
Econometric Society (elected fellow)
National Academy of Education
National Academy of Sciences
Biography: 

Gary S. Becker passed away on May 3, 2014. He won the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Science in 1992, and was the Rose-Marie and Jack R. Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago.

Becker is recognized for his expertise in human capital, economics of the family, and economic analysis of crime, discrimination, and population.

His research focused on habits and addictions, formation of preferences, human capital, and population growth.

Becker wrote commentary for The Becker-Posner Blog. He served as an economic policy adviser for the Dole presidential campaign in 1996. He received the National Medal of Science in 2000 for his work in social policy and was the 2004 recipient of the Jacob Mincer Prize for lifetime achievement in the field of labor economics.

Becker's publications include Uncommon Sense: Economic Insights, from Marriage to Terrorism (2009) coauthored with Richard Posner, and (with Guity Nashat) The Economics of Life (McGraw Hill, 1997) and Accounting for Tastes (Harvard University Press, 1996). He is the author of numerous other books, including the seminal work Human Capital (Columbia University Press, 1964; 3rd edition, 1993), which was awarded the prestigious W.S.Woytinskty Award in 1964.

In addition to being a Nobel laureate, Becker was a recipient of the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He held honorary degrees from a dozen universities, including Hebrew University in Jerusalem (doctor philosophae honoris causa), Knox College, Illinois (doctor of laws), Princeton University (doctor of humane letters), Columbia University (doctor of humane letters), and the University of Illinois at Chicago (doctor of arts).

Becker was a professor at the University of Chicago from 1954 to 1957 and at Columbia University from 1957 to 1968. In 1968–1969 he was a Ford Foundation visiting professor of economics at the University of Chicago before joining the Department of Economics there in 1970.

Becker received an AB (summa cum laude) from Princeton University in 1951, an AM from the University of Chicago in 1952, and a PhD from the University of Chicago in 1955.

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Recent Commentary

Fracking and Self-Sufficiency in Gas and Oil

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More or less every American president starting with Dwight Eisenhower, and prioritized by Richard Nixon, called for American self-sufficiency in energy sources.

Analysis and Commentary

Fracking and Self-Sufficiency in Gas and Oil

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, April 1, 2012

The cost of using fracking for natural gas extraction has become so competitive that most US natural gas production comes from fracking. As a result, the price of natural gas has fallen...

Should K-12 Teachers Have Tenure?

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Monday, March 19, 2012

The traditional case for tenure at the university level rests on two pillars. The first and most prominent is that this gives professors freedom to express unpopular views in their writings and lectures.

Analysis and Commentary

Should K-12 Teachers Have Tenure?

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, March 18, 2012

The traditional case for tenure at the university level rests on two pillars...

On the Apparently Growing Class Divide and What can be Done About it

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Monday, March 12, 2012

The US has traditionally stood for a large amount of equality of opportunity, at least among whites. This implies that the success of children would depend mainly on their ability and energy, and much less so on their parents’ incomes and education.

Analysis and Commentary

On the Apparently Growing Class Divide and What Can Be Done About It

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, March 11, 2012

The two most attractive options appear to be greater emphasis on early childhood education and better schools, but much further research is necessary...

Traditional Bookstores and Libraries are Doomed by the Internet

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Monday, March 5, 2012

It has been recognized for at least a decade that traditional bookstores and newspapers are essentially doomed by the growth of the Internet and digitization.

Analysis and Commentary

Traditional Bookstores and Libraries are Doomed by the Internet...

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, March 4, 2012

One may lament the closing of many local bookstores, post offices, and movie theatres, and the sharp decline of giants in the newspaper business like the Washington Post, but the reasons for these changes are both clear and irreversible...

Is China’s Economic Future a Rosy One?

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Monday, February 27, 2012

Starting with the opening of agriculture to private incentives in the late 1970s, China has experienced faster and more prolonged economic growth than any other country.

Analysis and Commentary

Is China’s Economic Future a Rosy One?

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, February 26, 2012

Starting with the opening of agriculture to private incentives in the late 1970s, China has experienced faster and more prolonged economic growth than any other country...

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