Gary Becker 1930 – 2014

Gary Becker has passed away aged 83.

“I was interested in social problems but felt that economics had the tools by which to handle these long-term interests and social questions,” Becker told The Associated Press when he became a Nobel Laureate in 1992.

Becker was cited for applying economic analysis to a wide range of human behavior and interactions. The economics and sociology professor studied issues such as marriage and divorce, crime and punishment, addiction and household decisions.

Before Becker began publishing his ideas in the late 1950s, most academics considered habit and often emotion or irrationality as the primary factors in human behavior such as having children or committing crimes.

The key to his research is the theory that human behavior follows the same rational principles, whether it involves a household, a business or an organization. Though greeted initially with skepticism, his work influenced sociology, demography and criminology.

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6 Responses to Gary Becker 1930 – 2014

  1. A great loss of courageous scholar.

    He gambled writing his PhD on the economics of discrimination.

    Milton Friedman said Becker was his best student.

    James Heckman described Becker as the great social scientists of the last 50 years.

  2. This from James Heckman has some great photos from and for a 2011 conference in Becker’s honour at the Becker-Friedman Institute

  3. Anne

    Duesenberry on Becker.

    “I used to tell my students that the difference between economics and sociology is very simple. Economics is all about how people make choices. Sociology is all about why they don’t have any choices to make.”

    There’s an idea that resonates today.

  4. Anne, Rachel Kling once offered a quick summary of every sociology course:

    There’s poverty and America sucks.

  5. Anne

    Anne, Rachel Kling once offered a quick summary of every sociology course:

    “There’s poverty and America Australia sucks.”

    My new response to every leftist gripe. It’s succinct…. thought limiting even. :-)

  6. Pedro

    Just have a look at the last few entries on their blog to see how many interesting things Becker had to say. What a shame, though I guess 83 is a pretty good innings.

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