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The Nobel Memorial Laureates in Economics

The Nobel Memorial Laureates in Economics

An Introduction to Their Careers and Main Published Works

Howard R. Vane and Chris Mulhearn

Erudite, accessible and lucidly written, this book provides a stimulating introduction to the careers and main published works of the Nobel Memorial Laureates in Economics. It will prove to be an invaluable reference book on key figures in economics and their path-breaking insights. The vignettes should also encourage the reader to sample some of the Laureates’ original works and gain a better understanding of the context in which new ideas were first put forward.


Howard R. Vane and Chris Mulhearn

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, history of economic thought


THE 1992 NOBEL MEMORIAL LAUREATE GARY BECKER GARY BECKER Gary S. Becker (b. 1930) © The Nobel Foundation Gary Becker was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, USA, in 1930. When he was still a young child his family moved to Brooklyn, New York where he went to school (interestingly, Becker and the 1987 Nobel Laureate Robert Solow both graduated from the same high school: James Madison; Fuchs, 1994). Becker was a good student with a particular interest in mathematics. His family life was stimulating and he recalls ‘many lively discussions in the house about politics and justice’, to which he credits a growing desire he felt ‘to do something useful for society’ (Nobel Foundation, 2004). Becker’s first encounter with economics happened ‘accidentally’ at Princeton University – where he was taking mostly mathematical courses. However, the subject seemed to blend social concerns with mathematical rigour and this made it attractive to him. In his final year at Princeton, some of this allure had worn off and Becker says he contemplated switching to sociology but he ‘found that subject too difficult’ (Nobel Foundation, 2004). He graduated with a BA from Princeton in 1951. Becker’s graduate study was in economics at the University of Chicago, where he excelled. Jacob Viner, a faculty member at Chicago during the time when Milton Friedman and George Stigler studied there, credits Becker with being ‘the best student I ever had’ (quoted in Fuchs, 1994, p. 183). The university 200 GARY BECKER awarded Becker an MA in 1953 and a...

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