Two Americans share Economics Nobel

Ostrom becomes the first woman to win the honour

The prize committee cited Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons,” and Oliver E Williamson of the University of California, Berkeley, “for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm.”
Ostrom becomes the first woman to win the prize for economics. Her background is in political science, not economics.

“It is part of the merging of the social sciences,” Robert Shiller, an economist at Yale, said of Monday’s awards. “Economics has been too isolated and these awards are a sign of the greater enlightenment going around. We were too stuck on efficient markets and it was derailing our thinking.”

In its announcement, the Nobel committee said Ostrom “has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatised. Based on numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwater basins, Ostrom concludes that the outcomes are, more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories.”

Williamson’s research, the committee said, found that “when market competition is limited, firms are better suited for conflict resolution than markets.” Ostrom, 76, was born in Los Angeles. She is the Arthur F Bentley professor of political science at Indiana University, Bloomington. Williamson, 77, was born in Superior. He is the Edgar F Kaiser professor emeritus of business, economics and law and a professor at graduate school of business at the University of California, Berkeley. The winners will share 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.4 million), and each will receive a gold medal and diploma on December 10.

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