Sunday, May 4, 2014

Economy: Gary Becker. R.I.P.

(Drivebycuriosity) - Today I learned that Gary Becker passed away. The Nobel laureate was one of the greatest economists of the past half century.

I had met him in Prague in the early 90s - shortly before he received the 1992 Nobel Prize in economics. He had joined a conference of leading economists who talked about how Eastern Europe would have to change to prosper after the fall of the wall which had divided the former Soviet Empire from the Western world.

Even though Prof. Becker was one of the rockstars of economics, he was very polite and friendly and talked openly with a humble journalist like me. He treated me as if I had been part of the elitist scientists he usually dealt with. I am very grateful for that and I feel especially honored by his generous treatment.

Gary Becker was one of the leading thinkers in microeconomics which deals with decisions of households, how you and I respond to economic incentives (econlib). Becker's Nobel Prize lecture is entitled "The Economic Way Of Looking At Life" (

One of his topics was "Human Capital": "Becker pointed out what again seems like common sense but was new at the time: Education is an investment. Education adds to our human capital just as other investments add to physical capital" (econlib).

Prof. Becker dealt - in a methodic & scientific way - with a lot of aspects of everyday life, including "allocation of time within a family, using the economic approach to explain the decisions to have children and to educate them, and the decisions to marry and to divorce" (econlib).

R.I.P. Prof Becker.

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