Elinor Ostrom has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced today. She is the fifth UCLA graduate to win a Nobel, and the first alumna.
Ostrom received her political science degree ('54), her master's ('62) and her doctorate ('65) at UCLA. She is the first woman to receive the prize in economics since it was established in 1969.
Ostrom said she was "flabbergasted" to get the news that she received the prize. "It was a fantastic surprise and a thrilling one," she said on the Indiana University website. "I'm very appreciative."
Ostrom is currently the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Ostrom's research has been noted since the 1970s for its expansion beyond traditional market-based views of economics. Her award recognizes her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons.
"Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized," the Swedish academy said in announcing the prize. "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."
Michael F. Lofchie, a professor in the UCLA political science department, was a faculty member in 1965 when Ostrom received her doctorate. "It's a great honor for this department," he said.
Ostrom will share the $1.4 million dollar award with Oliver E. Williamson, a professor at UC Berkeley. The Royal Swedish Academy of Science's press release lauded Ostrom and Williamson for advancing economic governance research "from the fringe to the forefront of scientific attention."
Five UCLA faculty members have been recognized as Nobel laureates in additon to the five alumni.