I’m so sorry to have to write that Gary Becker passed away on Saturday, at the age of 83. Gary was not only the most creative and influential economist of the last 50 years, but also a kind and gentle person, a mentor, and a close friend.
Others will write at length about Gary’s contributions to economics. I want to say just a few things in that regard. About ten years ago, Pierre-Andre Chiappori and I analyzed which economic theorists have had the greatest impact on empirical research by looking at the key motivating citations in papers published in top journals in recent years. Becker was by far the most influential theorist by our metric. What was most remarkable was that thirteen different works of his were cited; no one else had more than three or four. He published influential research in every decade from the 1950s to the present – incredible longevity. No one else had longevity like that.