This volume presents twenty-six essays that showcase the brilliant originality and range of economic thought that earned Hoover Institution senior fellow Gary S. Becker the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992. As the first published collection of Becker's papers, this selection offers an overview of the fundamental theories and unorthodox applications that inspired Milton Friedman to call Becker "one of the most creative economists of our generation" and concludes with the text of Becker's Nobel lecture, a personal survey of his work. Becker's significant contributions evolve from an economic approach to analyzing social issues that range beyond those usually considered by economists. By questioning assumptions taken for granted in most economic modeling. Becker sheds new light on previously unconnected and poorly understood social phenomena. He relies on this singular axiom: all actors in the social game are economic persons who maximize their advantages in different cost situations. In these essays, Becker studies persistent racial and sexual discrimination investment in human capital, crime and punishment, marriage and divorce, the family, drug addiction, and other apparently noneconomic dimensions of society. Significantly, Becker's findings not only shift huge problems that other social scientists once considered immovable but also stand up to empirical challenge.
Becker's findings not only shift huge problems that other social scientists once considered immovable but also stand up to empirical challenge. His singular axiom - that all actors in the social game are economic persons who maximize their advantages in different cost situations - allows Becker to study persistent racial and sexual discrimination, investment in human capital, crime and punishment, marriage and divorce, the family, drug addiction, and other apparently noneconomic dimensions of society. The essays presented here capture Becker's innovative analyses of these topics and include the text of his Nobel lecture, a personal assessment of his contributions to the profession.
Dr. Pedro Schwartz - economist, political scientist, company consultant and opinion leader, has a long career behind him as a defender of individual freedom, political democracy and economic free competition.
He had always combined his university activities with those in the political and managerial world. Born to a family of diplomats, he was very active as a law student in the defence of freedom, for which reason Franco's regime blocked his entry into the Diplomatic career although he had passed the corresponding examinations.
He went to London and studied political science at the London School of Economics until he obtained his doctorate with a thesis on the great liberal thinker John Stuart Mill: his most noteworthy professors included Lionel Robbins and Karl Popper, whose philosophy he contributed to introduce in Spain.
On returning to Madrid, and after passing the competitive examination required, he entered the Research Department of the Bank of Spain. He also started to teach the History of Economic Doctrines at the Complutensian University of Madrid, where he would remain for a quarter of a century. After being confined by the Government in the village of Lezuza, Albacete, he obtained the corresponding chair in 1969. Another stay in London allowed him to obtain a Master in Economic at, once again, the London School.
With the arrival of democracy, and with the help of Joaquín Garrigues, he created the Institute of Market Economy. He was a deputy for the Liberal Union during the legislature of 1982-86 and contributed to form the Popular Coalition, from which the Partido Popular later emerged.
On returning to academic life, he combined this with his activity in the Stock Market, and as a consultant in the area of economics and commercial distribution, the presidency of research centres such as Telefónica’s FUNDESCO, or the presidency of such foundations as the DMR Foundation.
Dr. Pedro Schwartz is Chairman of the "Consejo Económico y Social "of the Madrid Autonomous Community. He also is Professor Extraordinary in the Department of Economics of the University San Pablo CEU in Madrid, where he teaches the History of Economic Thought, and directs the Centre for Political Economy and Regulation. He also directs the political economy studies in the Faculty of Political Science of that University. He is secretary of the Think Tank Civismo and member of its Foundation Pro Libertate.
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Ramon Febrero is a professor of economics at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and director of the Economics and Business Administration Division of the Centro de Estudios Superiores “Ramon Carnade”.