First woman wins economics Nobel


Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson

Americans have dominated the Nobel economics prize

Elinor Ostrom has become the first woman to win the Nobel prize for economics since it began in 1968.

Ms Ostrom won the prize with fellow American Oliver Williamson for their separate work in economic governance.

The
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences is the last of the six Nobel
prizes announced this year. Since 1980, it has gone to Americans 24
times.

Last Friday, US President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – though this aroused some controversy.

BBC
economics editor Stephanie Flanders said the judges had rewarded work
in areas of economics whose practitioners’ "hands were clean" of
involvement in the global financial crisis.

‘Great surprise’

The
economics prize was not among the original Nobel awards, but was
created in 1968 by the Swedish central bank in Alfred Nobel’s memory.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Professor Ostrom, who
teaches at Indiana University, "for her analysis of economic
governance," saying her work had demonstrated how common property could
be successfully managed by groups using it.

She told Swedish
television that she was "in shock" at being the first woman to clinch
the award, adding winning had been a "great surprise".

Meanwhile, Professor Williamson, the academy said, developed a
theory where business firms served as structures for conflict
resolution.

The University of California, Berkeley academic has
argued that hierarchical organisations such as companies represent
alternative governance structures, which differ in their approaches to
resolving conflicts of interest.

"Over the last three decades,
these seminal contributions have advanced economic governance research
from the fringe to the forefront of scientific attention," the academy
said.

The pair will share the 10-million Swedish kronor (£910,000; $1.44m) prize.

Last
year, American academic Paul Krugman won the prize, in recognition of
his analysis of trade patterns and where economic activity takes place.


NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS 2009
Peace: Barack Obama
Physics: Charles K Kao, Willard S Boyle and George E Smith
Chemistry: Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A Steitz and Ada E Yonath
Physiology or Medicine: Elizabeth H Blackburn, Carol W Greider and Jack W. Szostak
Literature: Herta Muller
Economics: Elinor Ostrom and Oliver E Williamson


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