Gary Becker 101: Discover the Nobel-Winning Economist
Zatrun Published at March 07, 2023

Gary Becker was an American economist who was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992. He was also a sociology professor at the University of Chicago and a leader of the third generation of the Chicago School of Economics. To uncover more about Gary Becker, keep reading this article.

Who is Gary Becker?

Gary Becker was recognised as one of the first economists to analyse sociological topics from an economic perspective. Some of the topics he analysed included racial discrimination, crime, family structure, and rational addiction. He argued that many different human behaviours could be viewed as maximising behaviour and rational, including self-destructive or irrational behaviours.

His approach also encompassed the altruistic aspects of human behaviour, showing how helpful behaviour could lead to self-serving outcomes if one’s use value was accurately identified and measured. Additionally, he was one of the leading practitioners of human capital theory. Milton Friedman considered him the “greatest social scientist of the second half of the twentieth century.”

Becker began his academic career before the age of 30, moving to Columbia University in 1957 to teach and conduct research at the National Bureau of Economic Research. In 1970, he returned to the University of Chicago and was offered a joint appointment by the Sociology Department in 1983. He was elected as a Member of the American Statistical Association in 1965.

His Major Works

In addition to his academic career, Becker was a founding partner of the business and philanthropic consulting firm, TGG Group. He won the John Bates Clark Medal in 1967 and was elected as a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1972, the National Academy of Sciences in 1975, and the American Philosophical Society in 1986.

Gary Becker was a member and later president of the Mont Pelerin Society. He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992 for extending “microeconomic analysis to a wide range of human behaviour and interaction, including nonmarket behaviour.”

Becker was also a prolific writer and penned a monthly column for Business Week from 1985 to 2004. He served as an advisor to Republican presidential candidate Robert Dole in 1996. In December 2004, he and Judge Richard Posner launched a joint blog, The Becker-Posner Blog.

Becker passed away in 2014 at the age of 83 in Chicago, Illinois, and was honoured at a three-day conference organised by the University of Chicago the same year.

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