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

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Notable & Quotable – Gary Becker

by Gary S. Beckervia Wall Street Journal
Friday, July 25, 2014

University of Chicago economist Gary Becker writing at

Viva la Reforma

by Gary S. Beckervia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 21, 2014

Mexico is busting out of a century of stagnation, and the United States is likely to benefit too.

Opportunity Is Knocking

by Gary S. Beckervia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 21, 2014

Care for a genuine stimulus? Untangle regulation and cut taxes.

Analysis and Commentary

The Embargo of Cuba: Time to Go

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Monday, March 3, 2014

The US embargo of Cuba began in 1960, a year after Fidel Castro turned this island toward communism. It was extended to food and medicines in 1962, the same year as the showdown with Russia over the installation of missiles there. The embargo has prevented American companies from doing business with Cuba, and discouraged tourism to Cuba. The American government also tried with quite limited success to prevent other countries from trading with Cuba.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Marijuana Should be Decriminalized

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Analysis and Commentary

The Myth of Excess Enrollments in College

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Analysis and Commentary

Are Government Bureaucracies Too Big?

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Analysis and Commentary

Generational Mobility in the United States

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, February 2, 2014
Analysis and Commentary

Neighborhood Gerrymandering

by Gary S. Beckervia Becker-Posner Blog
Sunday, January 26, 2014

Debt Ceilings and Distractions

by Gary S. Becker, Edward Paul Lazearvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The real problem? The uncontrolled growth of federal spending.