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... Social phenomena, like other matters of interest to be found in the real world, lend themselves to analysis by a number of disciplines. The same raw data may be capable of classification and explanation in a variety of ways, each of which complements the others and so contributes to the full grasp of the phenomena under consideration. In the interests of reaping the advantages attendant upon the division of labor, a sequence of events may be seen as reflecting the simultaneous operation of several distinct chains of cause and effect. Each of these chains may then become the focus of inquiry, and it may enhance the advantages to be derived from the division of labor to be able to set forth in precisely what ways any one such causal chain constitutes a potentially fruitful theme for separate investigation.... [from Chapter 1]
Gary Becker (1930-2014) was one of the most original and pathbreaking economists of modern times. His 1992 Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences was described as his "having extended the domain of microeconomic analysis to a wide range of human behaviour and interaction, including nonmarket behavior." Becker's early work on discrimination led to his further work on Human Capital and education, including economic analyses of crime and punishment, focusing on the family as a fundamental decision-making unit, and the formation of habits. His studies yielded fresh approaches to solving these underlying problems, inspiring and opening a path to a generation of research in areas previously thought to be intractable, such as the interactions between economics, biology, and sociology. This 2003 interview, conducted by Edward Lazear, also includes a bonus conversation where he is also joined by Judge Richard A. Posner, who later co-blogged with Becker on the Becker-Posner Blog. Additional materials, including a video index and sharing tool, discussion questions, and links for further reading plus audio-only file formats, are available at Newmedia at COMMENT OR READ MORE