Thaler was born in East Orange, New Jersey. His mother, Roslyn (Melnikoff, 1921–2008), was a teacher, and later a real estate agent while his father, Alan Maurice Thaler (1917–2004), was an actuary at the Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey, and was born in Toronto. He grew up with two younger brothers. His great-great grandfather, Selig Thaler (1831–1903) was from Berezhany, Ukraine. He is married to France Leclerc, a former marketing professor at the University of Chicago and avid photographer.  He has three children from his first marriage.