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At Columbia I began a workshop on labor economics and related subjects--anything that interested us was "related." This involved transplanting the workshop system of supervising doctoral research from Chicago - where it originated. After a few years, Jacob Mincer joined the Columbia department and became co-director of the workshop. We had a very exciting atmosphere and attracted most of the best students at Columbia. Both Mincer and I were doing research on human capital before this subject was adequately appreciated in the profession at large, and the students found it fascinating. We were also working on the allocation of time, and other subjects in the forefront of research.
I married for the first time in 1954, and have two daughters from that marriage, Judy and Catherine. To provide a better family atmosphere I lived in the suburbs and commuted to Columbia and the Bureau. Eventually, I began to tire of commuting and decided either to move into New York or to leave Columbia for another university. I also was beginning to feel intellectually stale. 

My decision to leave was hastened by the student riots in 1968. I believed that Columbia should take a firm hand and uphold the right to free inquiry without student intimidation. The central administration wanted to do this, but it was incompetent, and was opposed by many faculty who behaved no better than the students. 

In 1970, I returned to Chicago, and found the atmosphere there very stimulating. The department was still powerful, especially after it had added George Stigler and Harry Johnson. Stigler and I soon became close friends, and he had a very large effect on my subsequent intellectual development. We wrote two influential papers together: a controversial one on the stability of tastes, and an early treatment of the principle-agent problem. Stigler also renewed my interest in the economics of politics; I had published a short paper on this subject in 1958. In the 1980s I published two articles that developed a theoretical model of the role of special interest groups in the political process. 

But mainly I worked on the family after returning to Chicago. I had much earlier used economic theory to try to understand birth rates and family size. I now began to consider the whole range of family issues: marriage, divorce, altruism toward other members, investments by parents in children, and long term changes in what families do. A series of articles in the 1970s culminated in 1981 in A Treatise on the Family . Since I continued to work on this subject, a greatly expanded edition was published in 1991. I have tried not only to understand the determinants of divorce, family size, and the like, but also the effects of changes in family composition and structure on inequality and economic growth. Most of my research on the family, and that by students and faculty at Chicago and elsewhere, was presented at the Workshop in Applications of Economics that Sherwin Rosen and I run. 

For a long time my type of work was either ignored or strongly disliked by most of the leading economists. I was considered way out and perhaps not really an economist. But younger economists were more sympathetic. They may disagree with my analysis, but accept the kind of problems, studied as perfectly legitimate. During the past ten years I have received much tangible evidence of this shift in professional opinion, including the presidency of the American Economic Association, the Seidman Award, and the first social science Award of Merit from the National Institute of Health. 

In 1983, the Sociology Department at Chicago offered me a joint appointment. I was happy to accept because this was an outstanding department. Its invitation to me gave a signal to the sociology profession that the rational choice approach was a respectable theoretical paradigm. James Coleman and I shortly thereafter began an interdisciplinary faculty seminar on rational choice in the social sciences that has been far more successful than we anticipated. 

Until 1985, I had published only technical books and technical articles in professional journals. At that time, I was surprised by being asked to write a monthly column for Business Week magazine. Since I feared that I could not write for a general audience, I was inclined to turn the offer down. Finally, however, I agreed to do some columns on an experimental basis. It was a wise decision, for I was forced to learn how to write about economic and social issues without using technical jargon, and in about 800 words per column. Doing this has enormously improved my capacity to discuss important subjects briefly and in simple language. The pressure of having to do a column every month also makes me stay abreast of many subjects that interest the business and professional readers of the magazine. 

I married for the second time in 1980 to Guity Nashat - my first wife died in 1970. This gave me two stepsons, Michael and Cyrus, to go with two daughters. Guity is the one who overcame my reluctance to do the Business Week columns. She is an historian of the Middle East with professional interests that overlap my own: on the role of women in economic and social life, and the causes of economic growth. The personal and professional compatibility she provides has made my life so much better.

From Les Prix Nobel 1992.

The Essence of Becker, edited by Ramon Febrero and Pedro S. Schwartz (Hoover Institution Press, 1995)
"This volume presents twenty-six essay 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.

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 non economic dimensions of society. Signigicantly Becker's findings not only shift huge problemes that other social sciencists once considered immovable but also stand up to empirical challenge."