Gary S. Becker, the University of Chicago professor known for applying economic theory to social issues ranging from drug addiction to family behavior, is among the latest recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The 76-year-old economist's early work showed that companies discriminating on the basis of race or sex hurt themselves by losing out on productive workers. Later, he presented criminality in a rational framework, suggesting that criminals — instead of being mentally ill — take into account the likelihood of being caught, and the expected punishment, before committing a crime.
The White House said today in announcing the recipients: “Gary S. Becker has broadened the spectrum of economics and social science through his analysis of the interaction between economics and topics such as education, demography, and family organization. His work has helped improve the standard of living for people around the world.”
Mr. Becker, who will take home the nation's highest civil award on Nov. 5, has already won the two most prestigious awards for economists. He received the Nobel Prize for economics in 1992 and the John Bates Clark medal, awarded to economists under the age of 40, in 1967.
He's also a blogger, writing The Becker-Posner Blog with Richard A. Posner, the federal circuit judge and University of Chicago Law School lecturer.
Thanks to WSJ RTE for the pointer