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

House Foreclosures

Free the Captives

by Gary S. Beckervia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How “captive regulators,” tamed by mortgage behemoths, added to the pain of the economic downturn. By Gary S. Becker.

Poor Countries Can Afford Democracy

by Gary S. Beckervia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

And if they put their new freedoms to work, they won’t even remain poor. By Gary S. Becker.

Analysis and Commentary

Government Workers and Fiscal Problems

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Monday, September 26, 2011

Public employees in Greece, Italy, in state and local governments of the United States, and government workers elsewhere are in the news in recent months not so much because of links to productivity, but rather because of connections to fiscal difficulties...

Government Workers and Fiscal Problems

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Monday, September 26, 2011

Posner’s results are consistent with findings of little connection among the richer countries between their per capita incomes and the share of incomes spent by the government. Unfortunately, causation is hard to determine from such regressions.

Market Failure Compared to Government Failure

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Sunday, September 18, 2011

When an industry in the private sector is not performing efficiently or effectively, there is said to be “market failure”. The recommendation by economists and others typically is then for government actions to combat such failure, such as taxes to help reduce pollution.

Analysis and Commentary

Market Failure Compared to Government Failure

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, September 18, 2011

When an industry in the private sector is not performing efficiently or effectively, there is said to be “market failure”...The diagnosis of market failure may be accurate, but the call for government involvement may be naïve and inappropriate...

A Second Stimulus Package?

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Monday, September 12, 2011

The recovery from the Great Recession has been slow and unsteady. Two years after unemployment peaked at 10.1%, it still remains over 9%, in contrast to the under 5% in 2007. GDP has grown very slowly during the past year, and is now more than 10% below its potential level.

Analysis and Commentary

A Second Stimulus Package?

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, September 11, 2011

Boiled down to its essentials, the proposed Jobs Act is a second stimulus package since most of the spending is supposed to take place soon (before the end of 2012), while it will be financed over the next ten years in ways that are unclear...

In Trouble Once Again: What to do about the US Post Office?

by Gary S. Beckervia Advancing a Free Society
Sunday, September 4, 2011

The United States postal system has a distinguished history since mail delivery is part of the Constitution, and Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General. But during the past half century it has faced one financial crisis after another.

Analysis and Commentary

In Trouble Once Again: What to do About US Post Office?

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

The United States postal system has a distinguished history since mail delivery is part of the Constitution, and Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General. But during the past half century it has faced one financial crisis after another...

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