Gary Becker receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

Gary Becker, the 1992 Nobel Laureate in economics, is to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Here is my first impression of meeting Becker:

The Chicago shopping mall’s parking lot is packed. The white-haired grandfather pulls into a space with a 30-minute limit, not nearly long enough for the leisurely lunch we have planned. “We should be fine here. I don’t think they check that carefully,” he explains in gentle but distinctively Brooklyn tones. I look across at him and ask, “Was that a rational crime?” He doesn’t hesitate for a second. “Yes it was.”

Becker is a huge figure in the world of economics, and a polarising one. (If you read one thing by Becker, read this.) Even many economists are sceptical about his program of applying economics to issues such as discrimination, marriage, crime and addiction. I am a fan, however: sympathetically interpreted his research is very penetrating. It’s a major theme of my forthcoming book, "The Logic of Life".
Funnily enough, Gary Becker sent through his opinion of "The Logic of Life" a couple of weeks ago:

The Logic of Life offers a fascinating discussion of the use of modern economic reasoning to explain humorous and serious aspects of everyday life… I strongly recommend this book, especially to those who want their economics to be fun as well as important.

Give him another medal, that’s what I say.

Addendum: I should have mentioned Gary Becker’s blog with Richard Posner.

Tim Harford’s blog

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Tim, also known as the Undercover Economist, writes about the economics of everyday life.