© The Nobel Foundation
Gary S. Becker

American Jewish Recipients of the Nobel Prize

Gary S. Becker: Nobel Prize
in Economics Recipient-1992

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Gary Stanley Becker is an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics, in 1992, for having extended the domain of microeconomic analysis to a wide range of human behavior and interaction, including nonmarket behavior.

He was born on December 2, 1930 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, a coal mining town. His father owned a small business. The family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where his father had another small business. He went through the New York City public school system. His father and mother never finished public education.

Becker entered Princeton University and received a B.A. degree, in 1951. He went to the University of Chicago where he took a course with Milton Friedman which renewed his excitement about economics. That course and his continued contacts with Friedman had an effect on Becker’s future research. He received his Ph.D. degree at the University of Chicago, 1955.

Becker taught at Columbia University, 1957-69. He returned to the University of Chicago where he held two appointments in the Department of Economics and Sociology and in the Graduate School of Business.

He received many awards:
● John Bates Clark Medal, in 1967
● Pulitzer Prize in Economics, 1992
● United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2007

Becker married for the first time in 1954 and he had two daughters, Judy and Katherine. His wife died in 1970. He married the second time to Guity Nashat, who had two sons, Michael and Cyrus. She was a historian of the Middle East.

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