18of19 - Human Capital and Specialization - Teams and coordination





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Published on Feb 10, 2011

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This the eighteenth lecture in the "Lectures on Human Capital" series by Gary Becker. This series of lectures recorded during the Spring of 2010 are from ECON 343 - Human Capital, a class taught every year by Gary Becker at the University of Chicago. In this class, Becker expounds upon the theory of Human Capital that he helped create and for which he won the Nobel Prize. Please see attached lecture notes, video annotations, and reading list for more information.


Professor Becker continues to discuss concepts of the specialization and the division of labor problem. He also gives insights and develops economic models that explain social specialization. However, in this lecture he also introduces concepts such as coordination costs, marriage, and teamwork. He explains when and why the agents of the economy will work together.

Also, he explain how differences in personal abilities and how the tasks' difficulty affect the social outcomes. Professor Becker talks about the importance of the market as a coordinator of economic activities. He talks about communication, complementary skills, and entrepreneurship as basic concepts in the understanding of modern economies.

Key concepts: complementary skills, communication, coordination costs, division of labor, entrepreneurship, specialization, teamwork.

Main discussions:
• Lecture 18, (12:25-13:35): Professor Becker explains the importance of the division of labor when the number of tasks of the economy increases.
• Lecture 18, (17:450-18:35): Professor Becker discusses people's choice of research topics and how any topic can be interesting -- "within broad limits".

Main quotes:
• "People start out identical ... it doesn't matter that much what people end up doing. Somebody ends up becoming a doctor, another person a lawyer, and another person an economist. Now the equilibrium requires that and they might think it matters, but fundamentally it doesn't matter that much. That's the model we have.
• "Intrinsic differences isn't the name of the game when you look at specialization... it's what people do to themselves through investments and so on that really matter."

• Chapter X1: The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge by Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy in Becker, Gary. 1974. Human Capital. Third ed. pp. 299-322.
• Salvador Navarro Lozano. Notes on Gary Becker's Human Capital and the Economy. pp. 21-25.


Lecture Notes:

Reading List:

Video Annotations:

  • Category

  • License

    • Standard YouTube License


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