Gary Becker

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gary Becker, 2008

Gary Stanley Becker (born December 2, 1930 in Pottsville , Pennsylvania , † May 3, 2014 in Chicago , Illinois ) was an American economist . In 1992 he received the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics “for his extension of microeconomic theory to a wide range of human behavior and human cooperation”.


When Gary was four or five years old, the Becker Jewish family moved from Pottsville to Brooklyn , New York. At the age of 16, Gary discovered his interest in mathematics. Having to read the latest business news to his father, he came to knowledge that made him bored.

At Princeton University he took a course in economics by chance and was enthusiastic, especially about the mathematical relationships. But he soon felt that the mathematical equations did not really represent or even solve the problems of society.

Becker graduated from Princeton in 1951 with a BA and moved to the University of Chicago . There he met Milton Friedman for the first time in 1951 in a microeconomics course . He renewed his interest in economics and, according to his own statement, shaped his further career. In 1955 he earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago and taught from 1957 to 1968 at Columbia University . He then returned to the University of Chicago, where he taught price theory .

In 1987 Becker was President- Elect of the American Economic Association .

Becker has two sisters and a brother. In 1954 he married his first wife Doria Slote, who died in 1970. The couple have two daughters. In 1980 he married his second wife, Guity Nashat.

Becker died in Chicago in May 2014 at the age of 83.


Becker was one of the first economists to expand economics to areas that traditionally belonged more to sociology , such as B. Racial discrimination , crime , family organization and drug addiction. He is known for his argument that many forms of human behavior can be understood as rational and the result of utility maximization. At the same time, Becker emphasizes the importance of interpersonal altruistic connections in his research .

In the 1960s and 1970s, along with authors such as Theodore William Schultz and Jacob Mincer , he reintroduced the concept of human capital to science. Human capital is an “individually invested capital stock of skills, knowledge and health”, the care of which is entrusted to each individual. Public educational offers should be combined with private efforts in order to provide the labor market with the optimal core competencies that promote employability . The OECD in particular adopted this theory. This meant a broad expansion of general school and higher education ( tertiary sector ) to impart key competencies , abolition of strict and narrow job profiles, lifelong learning . Computer scientist , financial expert and controller became interesting professions . In contrast, the simple and medium-sized activities would lose importance. Especially France and Great Britain, delayed the Federal Republic of Germany followed the model in the 1970s.

In his book The Economics of Discrimination , Becker presented a model with an explanation of how an individual inclination to discriminate among employers, colleagues or customers (which he called taste for discrimination ) leads to unequal treatment on the labor market and the creation or maintenance of a gender wage gap can lead.

In his work, Becker pointed to the economic benefits of children for their parents. The Rotten-Kid theorem also comes from Becker . His theories also play a role in explaining birth rates in demography .

The Nobel Prize Committee has classified Becker's work into four areas:

Becker's methodological approach was received in a wide variety of scientific disciplines; For this reason, the economist Justin Wolfers described him in an obituary for the New York Times as "the most important social scientist of the last fifty years" and "the most creative economist in the history of this science".


Becker received the John Bates Clark Medal in 1967 and was a member of the Mont Pelerin Society . In 1972 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences , 1975 to the National Academy of Sciences and 1986 to the American Philosophical Society . From 1985 to 2004, Becker, who describes himself as liberal in the classical sense , wrote a monthly column in Business Week , alternating with the more left-wing liberal economist Alan Blinder from Princeton University . In December 2004 he started a joint weblog with the judge Richard Posner .

In 2007, George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom , the highest civilian honor in the United States , along with the Congress Gold Medal of Honor .


  • Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education (1964)
  • Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach (1968), Journal of Political Economy, 76 (2), pp. 169-217.
  • The Economics of Discrimination . (1957, 2nd edition 1971)
  • The Economic Approach to Human Behavior , Chicago University Press, Chicago 1976, ISBN 0-226041115 .
    • German: The economic approach to explaining human behavior , 2nd edition. Mohr, Tübingen, ISBN 3-16-146046-4 .
  • A Treatise on the Family (1981)
  • The Economics of Life (1996)
  • Family, Society and Politics - The Economic Perspective (1996) ISBN 3-16-146361-7
  • Social Economics: Market Behavior in a Social Environment (2001)


Web links

Commons : Gary Becker  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

supporting documents

  1. Gary Becker, Economics Nobel Laureate, Dies at 83 ( Memento of the original from May 5, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ Past and Present Officers. (American Economic Association), accessed October 27, 2015 .
  3. ^ Manfred Becker: Personalentwicklung , 5th edition, Schäfer-Pöschel Verlag 2009, p. 38
  4. Lutz Raphael: Beyond Coal and Steel . Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-7425-0474-6 , pp. 255-260 .
  5. ^ Justin Wolfers: How Gary Becker Transformed the Social Sciences The New York Times , May 5, 2014
  6. Archive link ( Memento of the original from May 21, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /