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Gary S. Becker, the University of Chicago professor known for applying economic theory to social issues ranging from drug addiction to family behavior, is among the latest recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The 76-year-old economist’s early work showed that companies discriminating on the basis of race or sex hurt themselves by losing out on productive workers. Later, he presented criminality in a rational framework, suggesting that criminals — instead of being mentally ill — take into account the likelihood of being caught, and the expected punishment, before committing a crime.
The White House said today in announcing the recipients: “Gary S. Becker has broadened the spectrum of economics and social science through his analysis of the interaction between economics and topics such as education, demography, and family organization. His work has helped improve the standard of living for people around the world.”