Nobel-winning economist Elinor Ostrom dies

INDIANAPOLIS Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:00pm EDT

Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences Professor Elinor Ostrom speaks at Forest Day 3 in the Falconer Convention Center in Copenhagen December 13, 2009. REUTERS/Casper Christoffersen/Scanpix Denmark

Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences Professor Elinor Ostrom speaks at Forest Day 3 in the Falconer Convention Center in Copenhagen December 13, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Casper Christoffersen/Scanpix Denmark

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INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Elinor Ostrom, a professor at Indiana University who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for economics, died on Tuesday from cancer, the university said. She was 78.

Ostrom received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for research on the ways that people organize themselves to manage resources. She shared the prize with University of California economist Oliver Williamson.

"Indiana University has lost an irreplaceable and magnificent treasure with the passing of Elinor Ostrom," university President Michael McRobbie said in a statement. "Throughout her lifetime, Lin has brought distinction to the university through her groundbreaking work, which received the ultimate recognition in 2009 when she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences."

Ostrom had been an Indiana University faculty member since 1965, the university said. She is survived by her husband, Vincent Ostrom.

Born Elinor Awan on August 7, 1933, in Los Angeles, Ostrom often reflected on being a child of the Great Depression and recalled her family harvesting food from their garden and knitting scarves for soldiers during World War Two.

Ostrom described herself as being a "poor kid in a rich kid's school" at Beverly Hills High School where she swam competitively and joined the debate team.

She worked her way through the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating in three years and entering the workforce before applying to graduate programs.

"Despite resistance to admitting women to doctoral programs" at that time, Ostrom earned master's and doctoral degrees from UCLA, Indiana University officials said.

Ostrom joined the Indiana University faculty in 1965. Her research ranged from the effectiveness of urban police departments to management of groundwater basins, irrigation systems, pasture lands, forests and fisheries, the university said.

McRobbie said Ostrom's love for her students and enduring support of colleagues will leave a legacy beyond the work she and her husband pursued and the university.

"Their generosity to Indiana University was extraordinary as well, with gifts, including Lin's Nobel Prize funds, totaling many millions of dollars," McRobbie said.

Ostrom continued to travel and worked with colleagues on grants and publications, advising and teaching a graduate seminar after was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2011, the university said.

(Reporting By Susan Guyett in Indiana and Dan Burns in New York; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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Comments (7)
trevorh wrote:
I consider Nobel prize in economics vain and worthless thing since government-cheering borrow-and-spend economists won most of it, from Krugman, Stiglitz and even this one Elinor Ostrom.

Of all the prominent liberal economists, the only one with any ray of intelligent and courage is Jeffrey Sachs. This is the only guy I have seen who are brave enough to make the subtle connection between the poor and breeding behavior, overpopulation. The rest of the clowns just scream class warfare and inequality so they can be hero to the mass. Shameless opportunists!

Jun 12, 2012 1:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mgear wrote:
“I consider Nobel prize in economics vain and worthless thing…”

I consider comments like yours — comments which make no substantive criticisms of the actual work for which the prize winners won — worthless things.

Jun 12, 2012 1:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
brotherkenny4 wrote:
No offense to the deceased, but how can there even be a Nobel prize for economics? Most economists are just trying to figure out how to manipulate people for the benefit of the few. The first commenter rants on the liberal economists, but that’s a little bit nit-picking. Exactly what does any economist do that is not manipulation. Shameless Opportunists? Of course, just as is sucking up to the masters as if supply side was a reality.

Jun 12, 2012 1:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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