Gary Becker Quotes

Gary Stanley Becker (December 2, 1930 – May 3, 2014) was an American economist. He was a professor of economics and sociology at the University of Chicago. Described as “the most important social scientist in the past 50 years” by the New York Times, Becker was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992 and received the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. A 2011 survey of economics professors named Becker their favorite living economist over the age of 60, followed by Ken Arrow and Robert Solow.

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Gary Becker


I was not sympathetic to the assumption that criminals had radically different motivations from everyone else.

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Different constraints are decisive for different situations, but the most fundamental constraint is limited time.

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My work on human capital began with an effort to calculate both private and social rates of return to men, women, blacks, and other groups from investments in different levels of education.

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Along with others, I have tried to pry economists away from narrow assumptions about self interest. Behavior is driven by a much richer set of values and preferences.

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Economy is the art of making the most of life.

Gary Becker


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“A literature has developed on whether discrimination in the marketplace due to prejudice disappears in the long run. Whether employers who do not want to discriminate will eventually compete away all discriminating employers depends not only on the distribution of tastes for discrimination among potential employers, but critically also on the nature of firm production functions.”

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“A stronger yuan could lead to greater Chinese asset accumulation in the U.S. and elsewhere.”

Gary Becker


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“The amount of crime is determined not only by the rationality and preferences of would-be criminals, but also by the economic and social environment created by public policies, including expenditures on police, punishments for different crimes, and opportunities for employment, schooling, and training programs.”

Gary Becker


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“The Treatise tries to analyze not only modern Western families, but also those in other cultures and the changes in family structure during the past several centuries.”

Gary Becker


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“Why in almost all societies have married women specialized in bearing and rearing children and in certain agricultural activities, whereas married men have done most of the fighting and market work?”

Gary Becker


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“Fines are preferable to imprisonment and other types of punishment because they are more efficient. With a fine, the punishment to offenders is also revenue to the State.”

Gary Becker


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“Is it fair or wise to place strict controls on legal immigration when little is done to stem illegal entry? Preference should be given to younger persons who will get jobs and are likely to make a long-term commitment to the country, such as the many men and women who want to study at American universities.”

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“That's what we teach all freshmen -- that investors and workers and everyone else in an economy respond in an important way to incentives, including tax incentives.”

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I am saying that the economic approach provides a valuable unified framework for understanding all human behaviour

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Still, intuitive assumptions about behavior is only the starting point of systematic analysis, for alone they do not yield many interesting implications.

Gary Becker


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