Gary Becker

Gary Becker

American economist
Date of Birth: 02.12.1930
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Gary Becker
  2. Career and Achievements
  3. Contributions to Family Economics
  4. Theory of Marriage and Divorce

Biography of Gary Becker

Gary Stanley Becker was an American economist, professor of economics and sociology at the University of Chicago, and professor at the Booth School of Business. He was also a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Becker was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania and earned his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1951. He obtained his doctoral degree from the University of Chicago in 1955, with his dissertation focusing on the economic aspects of racial discrimination.

Gary Becker

Career and Achievements

From 1957 to 1968, Becker taught at Columbia University before returning to Chicago. Throughout his career, Becker received numerous prestigious awards and honors. In 1967, he was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal. In 1972, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2000, he was awarded the National Medal of Science. However, his most notable achievement was receiving the Nobel Prize in 1992 for his research on a wide range of human behavior and responses, not limited to market behavior.

Gary Becker

Contributions to Family Economics

Becker gained significant recognition for his research on the family as a social institution. He thoroughly analyzed various aspects of family life, including divorce, marriage, social security, and fertility. In 1960, he immersed himself in the study of family economics and, together with Jacob Mincer, developed the "New Home Economics" model, which focused on the allocation of time within households. Becker explored the impact of external and internal factors on important decision-making processes and the principles that govern newly formed families' functioning and influence on the outside world.

Furthermore, Becker demonstrated that as the number of women in the workforce increased, there was a noticeable rise in the opportunity costs of child care. According to Becker's research, the increasing return on investment in education led to significant changes in society, such as a higher demand for expensive and formal education for their children. However, the combination of these factors had an unintended consequence of reducing overall birth rates.

Theory of Marriage and Divorce

Becker published articles in 1973 and 1974 on the theory of marriage, which not only analyzed existing facts but also drew interesting conclusions. He proved that the gender ratio in the "marriage market" is directly related to women's relative access to consumption goods. Becker also highlighted a comparatively higher likelihood of polygamy among men with higher incomes. In 1977, Becker published an article on divorce, attempting to show that divorces are often linked to unexpected changes in income levels.

These and many other articles formed the basis of Becker's book, "A Treatise on the Family," which has become one of the most highly cited books in economics. Throughout his career, Becker continued to revisit the topic of family economics. In 2013, he commented on the reasons why a relatively small number of women in the United States are able to reach high-level positions. Becker stated that most of the previously existing barriers for women and various minorities have been successfully broken, making it harder to argue for any form of artificial discrimination.