Posted by: Dirk | December 14, 2006

Gary Becker and Freakonomics

Today’s PhD tutorial was based on Gary Becker’s The Economic Approach to Human Behavior. There are two things I want to comment on. First, the introductionary chapter on the definition of Economics is still superb. Economics is not (only) about goods markets, or about maximizing under restrictions problems. Also, the definition of Economics does not tell us what the economic approach is. Becker (1976) states that

The combined assumptions of maximizing behavior, market equilibrium, and stable preferences, used relentlessly and unflinchingly, form the heart of the economic approach as I see it.

For further information I recommend the book or his Nobel Prize lecture entitled The Economic Way of Looking at Life. My second point is that the recent bestseller Freakonomic looks pretty much like a 21st century version of Becker’s classic. I find it a little strange that the authors do not mention Gary Becker, especially since both Becker and Levitt work(ed) at the University of Chicago. Btw, the book comes with a blog. And perhaps even more amazing, Becker is co-author af another blog.

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