Chicago economist Gary Becker, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1992, is to receive the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the US.

President Bush will award the medals to eight recipients at a ceremony next Monday, November 5, at the White House.

Prof Becker’s research has proven so influential because it extends the domain of economic theory to aspects of human behaviour - family organisation and education, for example - which had only previously been dealt with by other social science disciplines such as sociology.

President Bush said in a White House announcement. “His work has helped improve the standard of living for people around the world.”

Prof Becker co-teaches a course for MBA students at the University of Chicago graduate school of business in economic analysis of major policy issues. His co-teachers are Kevin Murphy, professor of economics, and Edward Snyder, dean of Chicago.

Prof Becker also holds faculty appointments in the economics and sociology departments at Chicago and the business school houses a university-wide research centre that was named in his honour in 2006, the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory.

Only a handful of economists have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom including Prof Becker’s former teacher, the late University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman. Prof Becker also received the Medal of Science in 2000.

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