Nobel Laureate Gary Becker Takes Your Questions

Gary Becker (Photo: University of Chicago Press Office)

One of the best perks of being a faculty member in the department of economics at the University of Chicago is getting to have lunch with Gary Becker.  Gary, who just celebrated his 80th birthday, is arguably the most creative and influential economist of the last 50 years.  He has applied economics to topics as wide-ranging as discrimination, marriage, addiction, and crime.  More than any other economist, he has been my inspiration and role model.  If the Nobel committee were ever to give two Nobel prizes to a single economist, there is little question that Becker would be the multiple recipient.

In the upcoming weeks, as part of a charity event sponsored by an intriguing new company called Expert Insight, Becker is going to spend 30 minutes video-chatting with Stephen Dubner.  Not that Dubner is ever at a loss for questions to ask (when he first came to interview me for the New York Times, he questioned me for 36 hours over three days, and he seemed to have at least another 36 more hours worth of questions in reserve when I finally told him he had to leave), but we figured our blog readers might have some particularly interesting questions for Becker.

So, fire away with your best questions in the comments section below and with any luck, you’ll get to see how the world’s greatest living economist answers you.

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  1. Mehdi Jaffer says:

    In your opinion is there such thing as ‘the public interest? Is it a helpful concept to approach policy, journalism politics or philosophy?

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  2. Thomas Lau says:

    Economics takes a lot of criticism for not being able to predict or control things which people incorrectly assume it should be able to. However, we know that economics has been successfully applied to many things people just aren’t aware of. Which economic theory/discovery have you or colleagues generated that has been successfully implemented to real world policy/behaviour are you most proud of?

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  3. Alex in Chicago says:

    What is your interpretation of depression era economics? Did The New Deal “work”, was it WWII, or some other force that finally sprung America out of the Depression?

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  4. WholeMealOfFood says:

    In this interview, Thomas Schelling, another Nobel Prize winner, claims you don’t know what you’re talking about regarding addiction. Have you read his work on the subject, and if so, what is your opinion on his theories of addiction?

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  5. Lorenzo Perafan says:

    Colombia is going through a huge corruption scandal right now, most visibly over the improvement of one of Bogota’s main roads, which should have been delivered many months ago. How can incentives be set to curb corruption when assigning contracts to entrepreneurs for massive public works?

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  6. carlos says:

    question 1. how would you re-define academia and education if you had the chance to change them?
    question 2. are two dominant political parties enough for the US?
    question 3. what is the future of economics?

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  7. Frank Drake says:

    Gary, are we better as a society solving problems on a micro-economic or local level?

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  8. Claudio Daud says:

    Dear Mr. Becker,
    What are the real chances of latin american countries to be succesful in our anticiclical economic policies without the great surplus provided by our natural resources and the booming price of commodities? Can we be lenders to the world forever or the actual plenty is just a mirage?

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