DEFINITION of Gary S. Becker

Gary S. Becker is an American economist who won the 1992 Nobel Prize in Economics for his microeconomic analysis of human behavior and interaction. Before Becker, human behavior was primarily analyzed within the framework of other social sciences, such as sociology. His prize-winning research focused on investments in human capital, family/household behavior, crime and punishment, and discrimination in markets.


Gary S. Becker was born in 1930 in Pennsylvania and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Due to his unique and groundbreaking work, numerous universities have awarded him honorary doctorate degrees. He taught at Columbia University before returning to the University of Chicago, to continue teaching in the departments of economics and sociology and in the business school. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Becker was awarded the John Bates Clark medal in 1967 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.