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

Analysis and Commentary

Does America Imprison Too Many People?

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, December 4, 2011

Imprisonment is the right policy for anyone committing heinous crimes like rape, assaults, robbery at gunpoint, and many other crimes where victims are badly harmed both physically and mentally. Imprisonment is the wrong punishment for crimes without victims...

The Euro Crisis and Euro Bonds

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Monday, November 28, 2011

After the financial crisis erupted in 2008, continental Europe on the whole appeared to be in better shape than the US. The main reason was that the big EU banks held smaller amounts of questionable mortgage-backed securities than did American (and British) banks.

Analysis and Commentary

The Euro Crisis and Euro Bonds

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, November 27, 2011

What can be done now to prevent a catastrophe in the EU that would plunge Europe into another recession, and hurt badly the world economy as well...?

The Occupy Wall Street Movement

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Monday, November 21, 2011

Will the “Occupy” movement develop into a significant political force? I am doubtful: the movement is already losing supporters in most places where it has been active. Cold weather will accelerate the decline.

Analysis and Commentary

The Occupy Wall Street Movement

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, November 20, 2011

The movement is losing ground not because the issues it raises are unimportant, but rather because the great majority of Americans and those in other countries with Occupy groups do not sympathize with most of the people doing the occupying...

Has Structural Unemployment Become Important in the United States?

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Monday, November 14, 2011

The persistently high unemployment rate in the United States during the Great Recession has led to claims that much of American unemployment is “structural”.

Analysis and Commentary

Has Structural Unemployment Become Important in the United States?

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, November 13, 2011

The persistently high unemployment rate in the United States during the Great Recession has led to claims that much of American unemployment is “structural”...

Greece and the Euro

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Monday, November 7, 2011

I will discuss the following two crucial questions about Greece and the euro:

Should Greece have become part of the euro? No.

Should Greece leave the euro? Not now, but probably in the future.

Analysis and Commentary

Greece and the Euro

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, November 6, 2011

I will discuss the following two crucial questions about Greece and the euro: Should Greece have become part of the euro? No. Should Greece leave the euro? Not now, but probably in the future...

Free the Captives

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Thursday, October 13, 2011

When government officials become the servants of the companies they regulate rather than the masters, they are “captured.” Political economists who describe this process point out that when regulators are captured, much of what they do is motivated, consciously or not, by a de

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