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

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

The Economic Way of Looking at Behavior: The Nobel Lecture

by Gary S. Beckervia Analysis
Monday, July 1, 1996

On October 13, 1992, the Royal Swedish Academy announced the award of the Nobel Prize in economic sciences to Gary S. Becker, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago. In announcing the award, Gary was cited for extending "the domain of microeconomic analysis to a wide range of human behavior and interaction, including nonmarket behavior."

In the lecture he delivered as part of the 1992 Nobel Prize award ceremony, Gary discussed four topics—discrimination against minorities, crime and punishment, the development and accumulation of human capital, and the structure of families—that are emblematic of his innovative approach to the economic analysis of social issues. We are pleased to reproduce Gary's Nobel lecture as a Classic in the Hoover Essays in Public Policy series.

John Raisian
Director, Hoover Institution
June 1996

How to End Welfare--and Help the Working Poor

by Gary S. Beckervia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 1996

We should stop tinkering with the welfare system and forget about the minimum wage. We already have a way to help the working poor: the earned income tax credit. An analysis by Nobel Prize–winner and Hoover fellow Gary S. Becker.

The Numbers Tell The Story: Economic Freedom Spurs Growth

by Gary S. Beckervia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 1996

Nobel Prize–winner and Hoover fellow Gary S. Becker surveys the evidence from more than a hundred countries.

How a Flatter Tax Could Have Kept the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland

by Gary S. Beckervia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 1996

Hoover fellow Gary S. Becker won the Nobel Prize for applying the discipline of economics to social problems, including crime, education, and drug addiction. Here he applies economics to major league sports.

Why the Flat Tax Isn't Nuts

by Robert J. Barro, Milton Friedman, Gary S. Beckervia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 1996

When presidential candidate Steve Forbes championed a flat tax virtually identical to the one first proposed by Hoover fellows Robert E. Hall and Alvin Rabushka, critics hooted, calling the flat tax a nutty idea. The Wall Street Journal asked a group of renowned economists, including Hoover fellows Robert J. Barro, Gary S. Becker, and Milton Friedman, to comment.