Gary S. Becker and His Theory of the Allocation of Time

In this post, I put together my favourite photo of Becker and the most seminal work he had contributed to the literature together in remembrance of him – one of the most influential economists and social scientists in the past 50 years. In Milton Friedman’s words –

“Gary Becker is the Greatest Social Scientist Who Has Lived and Worked in the Last Half Century.”

Although Becker has passed away in 2014, his life, work, character, and contributions remain to be a rich source of information, inspiration, a legendary example, and guiding principles for many economists and social scientists to follow.

Definitely, I am one of his followers.

In an introduction to Becker’s Theory of the Allocation of Time, author James Heckman, a distinguished professor in University of Chicago, also a Nobel laureate wrote in the beginning –

Gary Becker’s classic study, ‘A theory of the allocation of time’, laid the analytical foundations for the study of household production and the allocation of time within the household. It spawned a large literature and continues to influence economics and other social sciences.

If you are interested in health economics, you probably have heard of Michael Grossman and his contribution. The formulation of his model “On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health.” was largely drew from Becker’s human capital theory. I will talk about Michael Grossman’s work in a later post.

To read about Becker’s life and what makes him the Greatest Social Scientist, please refer to “A private note on Gary Becker” from James Heckman.



Ph.D. in Economics with interests in Life Science, Behavioral Science, Health Economics Evaluation and Health Technology Assessment. Executive MBA student at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business in Hong Kong, graduating in 2020.

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