划时代的经济学家

斯坦福—和许多人一样,我第一次接触本月早些时候去世的诺贝尔经济学奖得主加里·贝克尔(Gary Becker)是阅读他的开创性著作《人力资本》(Human Capital)和《歧视经济学》(The Economics of Discrimination)。自瑞典中央银行于1969年设立诺贝尔经济学奖以来,已有好几十位出色的经济学家获得过这一奖项,但贝克尔是其中少数从根本上改变了经济学家(更一般地说,是社会科学家)看待众多经济学重要话题的经济学家之一。

贝克尔的引人注目之处是将他的敏锐洞见(特别是关于经济激励的洞见)应用于经济分析不常探索的问题,包括将教育视为一种投资、提出歧视的受益者和受害者是谁的问题、考察家庭如何配置他们的时间、解释女性的生育决策等。

他在这些问题中的任何一两个上的研究便已足以让他获得诺贝尔奖;在范围如此广泛的问题上做出重要洞见,这着实令人瞩目。他绝对对得起他的长期导师兼朋友、已故的米尔顿·弗里德曼(Milton Friedman,与贝克尔一样,他也是改变了经济学家在许多问题上的思维方式的诺贝尔奖获得者)的罕见的溢美之辞。弗里德曼说,贝克尔是“过去五十年在世和活跃的最伟大的社会科学家。”

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