Gary Becker has passed away

by on May 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm in Current Affairs, Economics | Permalink

Greg Mankiw offers the sad news.  He was perhaps the greatest living economist.

1 Mark May 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

RIP. Selfishly, I will miss his articles on … Clear reasoning, consideration of counterarguments with respect, and topics that were small enough to be tractable but big enough to merit attention: ending the embargo in Cuba, legalizing marijuana, college enrollment trends, and size of government.

“Government should do much less so they can concentrate on and do better with the tasks they are most needed for, such as police and military, infrastructure, safety nets, and regulation of activities with big externalities. Regrettably, I am not optimistic that much can be achieved quickly in slimming down governments, given the strong self-interests and special interests that benefit from the present situation.”

We need more voices like this, and just lost one.

2 Art Deco May 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I’m afraid he was a man of his cohort and time. The sort of class you are referring to was a baseline expectation among the bourgeois of his era. No more.

3 Doug May 4, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Always impressed that Becker and Posner at their age were to put out such high quality, thoughtful writing at pretty significant volume, *just* as an uncompensated side project.

4 AR May 4, 2014 at 1:13 pm

I studied at Chicago and had the privilege to meet Professor Becker a few times. He was one of the most brilliant people I ever met. What I’ll never forget are the three times I went to my office on a Sunday – and Becker was in his office, working diligently, every time. No question the best living economist but also the hardest working. He made his own success, he will be missed by many.

5 Augusto Jiménez May 4, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Lamento profundamente la desaparición física del Prof. Gary Becker. Mis condolencias a sus familiares y amigos. Que su fuerza espiritual, no ayude a los que momentaneamente quedamos en esta estación pasajera. Paz a su alma

6 Alvin May 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm

I had the privilege of meeting Professor Becker for the first time this past February at a conference at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. He looked really good, was attentive the whole time during the two-day conference (didn’t catch him napping once during any of the talks), very engaged during the Q&A sessions, and was a really kind and humble man. I sat next to him and Richard Epstein during lunch and it was a thrill to listen to their Chicago stories about Posner, Coase and others.

7 Mattu May 4, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Don’t take this too seriously but the first thing I thought about your greatest living economist point was ‘ how long had that been your opinion?’, given Alchian and Coase died recently

8 Serguey Braguinsky May 4, 2014 at 9:57 pm

I believe he WAS the greatest living economist. But he was not just an economist. I had the privilege of knowing him well. He was first and foremost a really great person, so warm, and so understanding. I will miss him greatly.

9 mkt May 5, 2014 at 3:38 pm

re: working on Sundays. Someone once told me that Martin Feldstein sleeps only x hours per night (I forget what x was, but it was a small number, 4 or something like that). I wonder if top researchers are productive in part because they can work more hours per day?

10 David Lloyd-Jones June 2, 2014 at 9:33 pm

A really *sweet* thinker, and a pity to lose.


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