Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education

University of Chicago Press
3
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Human Capital is Becker's classic study of how investment in an individual's education and training is similar to business investments in equipment. Recipient of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Economic Science, Gary S. Becker is a pioneer of applying economic analysis to human behavior in such areas as discrimination, marriage, family relations, and education. Becker's research on human capital was considered by the Nobel committee to be his most noteworthy contribution to economics.

This expanded edition includes four new chapters, covering recent ideas about human capital, fertility and economic growth, the division of labor, economic considerations within the family, and inequality in earnings.

"Critics have charged that Mr. Becker's style of thinking reduces humans to economic entities. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Becker gives people credit for having the power to reason and seek out their own best destiny."—Wall Street Journal
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About the author

Becker won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1992. He is Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
May 15, 2009
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Pages
412
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ISBN
9780226041223
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / General
Business & Economics / Human Resources & Personnel Management
Business & Economics / Labor
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Others might have called this book Micro Theory or Price Theory. Becker's choice of Economic Theory as the title for his book reflects his deep belief that there is only one kind of economic theory, not separate theories for micro problems, macro problems, non-market decisions, and so on. Indeed, as he notes, the most promising development in recent years in the literature on large scale economic problems such as unemployment has been the increasing reliance on utility maximization, a concept generally identified with microeconomics. Microeconomics is the subject matter of this volume, but it is emphatically not confined to microeconomics in the literal sense of micro units like firms or households. Becker's main interest is in market behavior of aggregations of firms and households. Although important inferences are drawn about individual firms and households, the author tries to understand aggregate responses to changes in basic economic parameters like tax rates, tariff schedules, technology, or antitrust provisions. His discussion is related to the market sector in industrialized economies, but the principles developed are applied to other sectors and different kinds of choices. Becker argues that economic analysis is essential to understand much of the behavior traditionally studied by sociologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists. The broad definition of economics in terms of scarce means and competing ends is taken seriously and should be a source of pride to economists since it provides insights into a wide variety of problems. Practically all statements proved mathematically are also provided geometrically or verbally in the body of the text.
Others might have called this book Micro Theory or Price Theory. Becker's choice of Economic Theory as the title for his book reflects his deep belief that there is only one kind of economic theory, not separate theories for micro problems, macro problems, non-market decisions, and so on. Indeed, as he notes, the most promising development in recent years in the literature on large scale economic problems such as unemployment has been the increasing reliance on utility maximization, a concept generally identified with microeconomics.

Microeconomics is the subject matter of this volume, but it is emphatically not confined to microeconomics in the literal sense of micro units like firms or households. Becker's main interest is in market behavior of aggregations of firms and households. Although important inferences are drawn about individual firms and households, the author tries to understand aggregate responses to changes in basic economic parameters like tax rates, tariff schedules, technology, or antitrust provisions. His discussion is related to the market sector in industrialized economies, but the principles developed are applied to other sectors and different kinds of choices.

Becker argues that economic analysis is essential to understand much of the behavior traditionally studied by sociologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists. The broad definition of economics in terms of scarce means and competing ends is taken seriously and should be a source of pride to economists since it provides insights into a wide variety of problems. Practically all statements proved mathematically are also provided geometrically or verbally in the body of the text.

On December 5, 2004, the still-developing blogosphere took one of its biggest steps toward mainstream credibility, as Nobel Prize–winning economist Gary S. Becker and renowned jurist and legal scholar Richard A. Posner announced the formation of the Becker-Posner Blog.

In no time, the blog had established a wide readership and reputation as a reliable source of lively, thought-provoking commentary on current events, its pithy and profound weekly essays highlighting the value of economic reasoning when applied to unexpected topics. Uncommon Sense gathers the most important and innovative entries from the blog, arranged by topic, along with updates and even reconsiderations when subsequent events have shed new light on a question. Whether it’s Posner making the economic case for the legalization of gay marriage, Becker arguing in favor of the sale of human organs for transplant, or even the pair of scholars vigorously disagreeing about the utility of collective punishment, the writing is always clear, the interplay energetic, and the resulting discussion deeply informed and intellectually substantial.

To have a single thinker of the stature of a Becker or Posner addressing questions of this nature would make for fascinating reading; to have both, writing and responding to each other, is an exceptionally rare treat. With Uncommon Sense, they invite the adventurous reader to join them on a whirlwind intellectual journey. All they ask is that you leave your preconceptions behind.

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