Listen now (80 min) | Robert Michael, professor emeritus at University of Chicago, was a student of Nobel laureate Gary Becker from a productive period when Becker was at Columbia up through the late 1960s and in this interview shares a bit of why that time was so special. As you may recall, I have been doing my only little “mixtape” about Becker’s students and previously interviewed Bob’s old classmate and longtime friend, Mike Grossman. Bob describes a lot about the secret sauce that made Columbia such a special time for people like him, Mike, Bill and Elizabeth Landes, Isaac Ehrlich and many others. It wasn’t merely the chance to be mentored by Becker according to Bob; it was also Jacob Mincer and how complementary those two were — yin and yang, theory and empirical rigor. Bob would go on to helping shape the profession, not merely through his wonderful scholarship, but also through his overseeing of numerous important panel and cross-sectional datasets. The two with which I am most familiar are the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, which I wrote my dissertation on, and the National Health and Social Life Survey, a 1992 survey which was the first representative survey of adult American sexual behavior.
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