Gary S. Becker

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Gary S. Becker

Gary S. Becker is a Nobel Prize Winner, one of the first economists, who reached into topics normally considered as belonging strictly to sociology, such as addictions, discrimination, racism, violence, family organization. Creator of the economic theory of crime.


Gary Stanley Becker was born 2 December 1930 in the town of Pottsville in Pennsylvania. At the age of about 5, he moved with his parents to New York. There he attended school. He began his studies at the University Princeton where he earned a BA, then continued his studies at the University of Chicago where he earned a PhD. He lectured at Columbia University and University of Chicago. In 1967 he received a John Bates Clark' medal, awarded by the American Association for young economists. In 1992 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics, and in 2007 was awarded Medal of Freedom by the President of the United States.

Basic views

  • Becker believes that competition reduces discrimination. If discriminated against group represents a small fraction of the total, costs of discrimination are falling only on this group. If, however, it represents major part, the costs of discrimination fall both on the group and the rest. Therefore, he predicted economic necessity for the fall of apartheid in South Africa.
  • Introduced the concept of investment in human capital and showed its economic consequences.
  • He showed that committing a crime is a consequence of rational, thoughtful pros and cons, where the profit of the offense is greater than the expected penalty. According to Becker, there is a certain level of crime below which you can't get down.
  • His research on family inspire him to put the conclusion that people come together in pairs, family, divorced, etc. through the analysis of potential gains and losses.

Discrimination is a long-lasting effect applied in relation to social groups, persons, organization etc., depending on different (worse) treatment despite being in similar (the same) situation. It can be the effect of using predominant position by one or the reluctance in regard of discriminated group. Discrimination also destroys social bonds present in the workplace.

Types of discrimination

Discrimination is a negative phenomenon because it leads to limitation of possibilities satisfying needs and full participation in society. Mostly the phenomenon of discrimination undergo social groups, which are dependent from others, differ significantly or are weaker. There are following types of discrimination:

  • discrimination with regard on race (racism),
  • discrimination with regard on age (ageism),
  • discrimination with regard on sex (sexism),
  • discrimination with regard on sexual orientation,
  • discrimination with regard on confessed belief,
  • discrimination with regard on being handicap.

Discrimination can be divided on:

  • direct discrimination to deal with, when discriminatory working are public, intentional and organized guided,
  • indirect discrimination which consequences are discriminating, despite that it was not their intention,
  • the positive discrimination - the transmission of special privileges, right to social groups or to individuals so that their chances would level with a reason of the risk of discrimination,
  • opposite discrimination - when activities are discriminating applied in relation to persons about predominant position.

Major works

  • " The Economics of Discrimination", University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1957
  • "Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education", University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1964
  • Gary S. Becker and Gilbert Ghez, "The Allocation of Time and Goods Over the Life Cycle", Columbia University Press, New York, 1975
  • "The Economic Approach to Human Behavior", University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1976
  • "A Treatise on the Family", Harvard University Press 1991
  • "Accounting for Tastes", Harvard University Press, 1996
  • Gary S. Becker and Kevin M. Murphy, "Social Economics: Market Behavior in a Social Environment", Harvard University Press, 2001

Examples of Gary S. Becker achievements

  • Gary S. Becker was an economist and sociologist who is best known for his contributions to the development of the field of economics known as human capital theory. This theory, which he proposed in 1964, suggests that individuals invest in their skills and abilities in order to maximize their economic rewards in the future. Becker applied this theory to many areas of economic life, including education, labor economics, and family economics.
  • Becker was also an early proponent of the idea of rational choice theory, which postulates that individuals make decisions based on rational calculations of their own self-interest. This concept has been used to explain a wide variety of human behavior, such as why people choose certain professions and why some people are more risk-averse than others. Becker's work in this area has been highly influential in economics and other social sciences.
  • Becker was also a strong advocate for the legalization of drugs and prostitution, which he argued could reduce crime and poverty. He also argued that government policies should be designed to encourage economic growth, and he was a strong proponent of free trade and market-oriented economic policies.
  • Becker was one of the first economists to apply economic analysis to the study of marriage, fertility, and family structure. He argued that individuals make rational decisions about marriage and family size based on their economic prospects, and he used economic theory to explain why some societies had higher fertility rates than others.
  • Becker's work on human capital theory has been credited with inspiring the creation of microcredit programs, which provide small loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, allowing them to invest in their own businesses and increase their economic opportunities. This has been credited with spurring economic growth in many countries around the world.

Advantages of Gary S. Becker approach

Gary S. Becker was an American economist, professor, and Nobel Laureate who is widely considered to be one of the greatest economists of the 20th century. He is known for his contributions to the fields of economics, sociology, and human capital theory. Below are some of the advantages of Gary S. Becker's work and legacy:

  • His work on human capital theory, which highlighted how investments in education, skills, and health can pay off in the form of higher wages, has become a cornerstone of the modern labor market.
  • He was a pioneer in applying economic theory to social issues such as crime, discrimination, and poverty.
  • His work on rational choice theory and his groundbreaking theory of Beckerian Economics provided new insights into how individuals make decisions and how these decisions impact the larger economy.
  • He was also a vocal advocate for free trade and open markets, believing that it was the best way to promote economic growth and prosperity.
  • He was a strong advocate for economic research, believing that it was essential for developing better economic policies and improving the lives of citizens.

Limitations of Gary S. Becker approach

Gary S. Becker is a Nobel Prize-winning economist who is well known for his contributions to human capital theory. However, there are some limitations to his works:

  • Becker's theories on human capital assume that people have rational behaviors and make decisions that maximize their utility. This assumption, which is based on neoclassical economics, fails to account for the complexity of individual behavior, which often involves irrational decisions.
  • Becker's works focus on the economic aspects of human capital, such as the ability to generate income. However, human capital is not limited to economic outcomes; it includes social and cultural capital, which are not addressed by Becker.
  • Becker's works often emphasize the role of the individual in the development of human capital, neglecting the influence of the broader economic and social environment. This limits the applicability of his theories to real-world contexts.
  • Becker's work does not adequately explore how power dynamics, such as gender and racial inequalities, can affect the formation of human capital. This is an important limitation, as these dynamics can shape people's access to resources, opportunities, and knowledge.

Other approaches related to Gary S. Becker

Gary S. Becker is an American economist who was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992. He is renowned for his contributions to the field of economics, especially in the areas of human capital, family economics, and the economics of discrimination. Other approaches related to his work include:

  • Behavioral economics: This approach emphasizes the psychological, sociological, and cognitive aspects of economic decision-making. It considers the influence of emotions and social conventions on economic decisions, as well as the impact of context and institutions on behavior.
  • Family economics: This approach considers the economic aspects of family dynamics. It looks at the impact of marriage, divorce, fertility, and other factors on economic decisions.
  • Economics of crime: This approach looks at the economic motivations behind criminal behavior and the economic costs of crime. It considers the economic incentives for crime, such as the potential for rewards, and the economic consequences, such as the costs of legal proceedings.
  • Economics of education: This approach looks at the economic aspects of education. It considers the impact of education on economic outcomes and the economics of the education system, such as tuition costs and returns on educational investments.
  • Economics of health: This approach looks at the economics of health and health care. It considers the costs and benefits of health care, such as the impact of medical advances on economic outcomes.

In summary, Gary S. Becker's work has had a major influence on many other approaches to economics, including behavioral economics, family economics, economics of crime, economics of education, and economics of health.

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