April 12, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 14

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    Becker will receive SSD’s Phoenix Prize

    By William Harms
    News Office

    Gary Becker, Professor in Economics and Sociology, will receive the Phoenix Prize.

    Gary Becker, Professor in Economics and Sociology, will receive the Phoenix Prize during a symposium to be held in his honor Friday, April 20. Leading figures in economics will present talks at the daylong event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the third-floor lecture room of Swift Hall.

    The Phoenix Prize is the highest honor the Division of Social Sciences bestows upon a colleague. The award recognizes the achievement of a current faculty member whose scholarship has altered the research agenda of his or her discipline, or who has opened new avenues of research in the social sciences. The prize previously has been awarded to the late James Coleman, Professor in Sociology, in 1994, and to Marshall Sahlins, the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor in Anthropology and Sociology, in 1998.

    “Gary Becker truly exemplifies that function which society charges its universities to perform–to actively participate in the cycle of intellectual renewal, which we inherit from our teachers and pass on to our students,” said Richard Saller, the Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor in History and Dean of the Division of Social Sciences.

    Becker is best known for his research that illuminates how economic decisions influence people’s lives. His work has extended economic analysis to decisions made by families, the effects of discrimination on minorities’ earnings and employment, and how changes in family composition affect inequality and economic growth. Becker has authored or co-authored such books as Social Economics (2000), The Economics of Life (1997), Accounting for Tastes (1996), A Treatise on the Family (1981), The Economic Approach to Human Behavior (1976) and The Allocation of Time and Goods Over the Life Cycle (1975).

    Becker, who received the National Medal of Science last year, also received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992.

    The symposium will begin at 9 a.m. with comments from James Heckman, the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and 2000 Economics Nobel laureate.

    During the first morning session, presentations focused on Becker’s contributions to social economics will be given by Glenn Loury, university professor in economics, Boston University, and George Akerlof, the Goldman professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Also in the morning, two scholars–Edward Lazear, the Jack Steele Parker professor of human resources management and economics in the Graduate School of Business and a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Boyan Javonovic, a Visiting Professor in Economics at the University and a faculty member in economics at New York University–will discuss Becker’s contributions to human capital and growth.

    The symposium will cover the topic of household economics with talks by Robert Pollak, the Hernreich distinguished professor of economics at Washington University; and Casey Mulligan, Associate Professor in Economics at the University.

    Steven Levitt, Professor in Economics, and the Honorable Richard Posner, Senior Lecturer in the Law School and Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, will present talks on law and economics at 2:20 p.m.

    Becker will then respond to the presenters, and Milton Friedman, the Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Economics and a senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, will make the closing remarks. A reception will follow in the first-floor commons room of Swift Hall.