Gary S. Becker (1930-2014)


Gary S. Beckerh The economics profession mourns the loss of Gary S. Becker, University Professor in the Departments of Economics and Sociology and in the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, on May 3, 2014. Professor Becker, winner of the AEA's John Bates Clark Medal (1967) and former President of the Association (1987), was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (1992) "for having extended the domain of microeconomic analysis to a wide range of human behavior and interaction, including non-market behavior." He was also a recipient of the National Medal of Science (2000) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2007). Among the most creative and influential economists of the past century, Gary will be deeply missed by a multitude of colleagues, students, and friends.

Read more at the University of Chicago News



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In the News:

In a piece about the consequences of trade with China, the NYT Upshot blog covered a 2013 article from the American Economic Review. In The China Syndrome: Local Labor Market Effects of Import Competition in the United States, the authors compare different U.S. regions, some of which were exposed to new competition from Chinese imports during the 1990s and some of which were less affected thanks to a different industry mix. The more-exposed regions did see significantly more job losses over the 1990-2007 period, but the pain was eased by an increase flow of unemployment benefits and disability payments to these areas.

A recent episode of the Freakonomics podast about the gender pay gap cited past AEA president Claudia Goldin's 2014 presidential address. In A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter, Goldin blames the bulk of the gender pay gap on firms' tendency to disproportionately reward employees who work very long hours, and who work particular hours. Certain sectors, like technology, science, and health, have been quicker to adopt new compensation schemes that are more flexible and less disadvantageous for part-time workers.

The Huffington Post covered a paper appearing in this month's issue of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. In The Contribution of the Minimum Wage to US Wage Inequality over Three Decades: A Reassessment, the authors use updated data and a new methodological approach to study the link between wage inequality and the minimum wage. They find that a higher real minimum wage can reduce inequality, but that the effect is "substantially less" powerful than previously thought.

BBC News covered an article in the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics that takes a historical look at assassination attempts. In Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War, authors Benjamin Jones and Benjamin Olken find evidence that assassinations have had an impact on the growth of democracy and increased the intensity of wars, but also that successful assassination attempts are becoming more rare. The risk of assassination for heads of state peaked about 100 years ago but has fallen 70% since then.

In an article about tax subsidies for renewable energy sources, Vox cited a 2014 paper from the American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings. In How Effective Are U.S. Renewable Energy Subsidies in Cutting Greenhouse Gases?, the authors conclude that two major subsidy programs have reduced U.S. carbon emissions by only 0.3%. The effect is smaller than might be expected in part because the subsidies reduce the price of gas to motorists, which in turn encourages more gasoline use and more emissions.

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