Monday, 12 May 2014

Remembering Gary Becker

Blogging has been very light recently as the Department has been kept administratively busy, and I'm late to commenting on Gary Becker, who passed away recently.

Like any economist, I have long know of Becker's work, but my own research hasn't taken me in the same directions, and so I have not engaged with it directly, and therefore not competent to write a Eulogy. But I would like to relate one anecdote. Back in the mid-1990s, I attended the ASSA meetings in (I think) Chicago, where there was a session on race involving three Nobelists: Lucas, Friedman, and Becker. Friedman was ill, unfortunately, and so could not attend, and Lucas chose to talk about growth rather than race. Becker's talk, in contrast, was engaging, and surprisingly (to me, based on reputation) very un-ideological and fully recognising both the power and the limitations of theory for thinking about ideas. But, it was a throwaway line that I remember the most. Apparently, when he went to publish his thesis on the economics of discrimination, the working title was Price and Prejudice, but he was persuaded by his editors to go with the more prosaic, The Economics of Discrimination. Darn editors. Fortunately, Greg Clark, has more reasonable editors. 

1 comment:

  1. “he was special on multiple margins…” Nice.