Posts Tagged ‘Elinor Ostrom’

the early life of Economics Nobelist Elinor Ostrom

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

I learned a lot from this Saturday’s column of Tim Harford, the “Undercover Economist”. For starters, I learned that Lin Ostrom was born Elinor Awan in Los Angeles in 1933.

Lin was brought up in Depression-era poverty after her Jewish father left her Protestant mother. She was bullied at school

Elinor Ostrom profiled

Friday, September 16th, 2011

The current issue of Finance & Development, a quarterly publication of the IMF, profiles Indiana University political scientist Elinor Ostrom. Ostrom was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”. She shared the prize with Berkeley economist Oliver E. Williamson.

I was surprised to learn that Ms Ostrom (n

free Ostrom/Williamson downloads

Friday, November 27th, 2009

The 2009 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded jointly to Elinor Ostrom “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”,

more praise for Elinor Ostrom

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

When I started studying economics in graduate school, the standard operating procedure was to … assume a particular set of rules and technologies, as though they descended from the sky ….

A typical conclusion was that rules that assign property rights and rules that let people trade lead to good outcomes. … Why would they respect the property rights of someone else? We had no idea. ….


praise for Elinor Ostrom

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Elinor Ostrom and her colleagues in the International Association for the Study of Common Property have gotten a lot of mileage out of proving Garrett Hardin wrong. Hardin coined the phrase “Tragedy of the Commons” in a seminal 1968 Science article. Hardin’s brief article offered a clear and intuitively appealing account of why common property resources (CPRs) would not be managed sustainably at a local level. Ostrom and her colleagues showed that the Tragedy of the Commons was not inevitable and that a great number of different CPRs could be sustainably managed, sometimes for centuries…..

It turns out the problem with commons is not common ownership: it is open access.

Inger Weibust, reviewing The Commons in the New Millennium: Challenges and Adaptations, edited by Nives Dolsak and Elinor Ostrom (MIT Press, 2003) in Global Environmental Politics 4:4 (November 2004), pp. 161-163.

Recycled from the Thought du Jour archive.

Inger Wiebust is an assistant professor in the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA), Carleton University, Ottawa. She is author of Green Leviathan: The Case for a Federal Role in Environmental Policy (Ashgate, London, UK, 2009). Indiana University political scientist Elinor Ostrom yesterday shared the Nobel Prize in economics “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”.

Elinor Ostrom on human activity and deforestation

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Recent attempts to understand processes leading to general environmental harms involve multi-variable models. Ehrlich and Ehrlich (1991), for example, adopted Barry Commoner’s earlier (1972) three-variable causal model: I = P*A*T, where, I = impact on the environment, P = population, A = affluence …, and T = technologies employed. An alternative model developed by Grant (1994) for UNICEF … is the PPE spiral, where poverty and population pressures are viewed as reinforcing one another and jointly impinging on environmental conditions while all three factors – population, poverty, and environment – affect and are affected by political instability.

… [T]hese two models [have many differences.] First, they disagree on the sign of the relationship between poverty and environmental variables. …. [S]hould we expect poverty to adversely affect deforestation in developing countries [the UNICEF model] and affluence to affect deforestation in industrialized countries [the Commoner-Ehrlich model]? The Commoner-Ehrlich model includes population size …. The UNICEF model identifies population growth rather than current size. Technology appears in the Commoner-Ehrlich model, but not in the UNICEF model. Political instability appears in the UNICEF model, but not in the Commoner-Ehrlich model. … [W]hich model best describes the world [?]. If one accepts the Commoner-Ehrlich view, one should focus attention on the most affluent countries and ignore political instability. Accepting the UNICEF view, one would focus on the poorest countries and emphasize the impact of political instability.


[So much for theory. What does the empirical evidence show? Unfortunately, not much.] [A]nalyses of [the effects of] demographic, socioeconomic and institutional factors on deforestation … do not support the idea of human driving forces, whereby there are human mechanisms that operate everywhere the same way – similar to gravity or other physical forces.

Elinor Ostrom, “The International Forestry Resources and Institutions Research Program: A Methodology for Relating Human Incentives and Actions on Forest Cover and Biodiversity”, in F. Dallmeier & J.A. Comiskey (eds.), Forest Biodiversity in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean (UNESCO, Paris, 1998), pp. 2-3, 10.

After so much effort, we still know almost nothing about this important subject. Political scientist Elinor Ostrom is a leading … perhaps the leading … researcher in this field. Lesser researchers actually believe that they understand the relationship between human activity and deforestation, so torture the data until they confess.

Update: Elinor Ostrom today was awarded, along with Berkeley economist Oliver E. Williamson, this year’s Nobel Prize in economics, “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”.

recycled from the Thought du Jour archive.