Reading Becker’s papers and his life had a real impact on me. It is not only intellectual, but an emotional one too. When I saw him teaching Human Capital Theory – an advanced economics class to students in Chicago at the age of 80, with only three more years to live before his time had come, something profound touched my heart. It must be the love I see in him. Love of economics not just as a mean to an end, a subject to study and a profession to make a living out from, but a path to real knowledge of human life, family, and society; a search for the truth, about ourselves and the decisions we make, either jointly as a family or individually, either on how to spend our money or time, or whether to get married and how many kids to have. If you watch Becker’s lecture on Human Capital, there are a few lectures on the Economics of Mortality, which describes in theory how resources are allocated to treat different diseases – a high level thinking that explains and addresses resources allocation problems in health care.
Economics is a frame of mind that I’m very proud to have. I’m even more sure about it now I see Becker demonstrate the beauty of economic analysis perfectly in his legendary work. In the past 50 years, Becker has brought economics out of its narrow focus on market-only activities to a much broader space that analyses non-market human interactions and explained its implication to other social science and policy. This is the right path, I am finally convinced, after struggling to get away from academia in search of truth, that the answer has been there right in front of me.
I followed an unconventional path into the labor market, and discovered my true passion. Besides that, I also discovered an interesting phenomenon I would call a ‘box’ theory. It would be politically incorrect to elaborate it now but I am going to say it anyways in a peer review journal one day. 🙂