James Alexander Mirrlees


James Alexander Mirrlees
(1936)


Scottish economist known for his analytic research on economic incentives in situations with incomplete, or asymmetrical, information. He shared the 1996 Nobel Prize for Economics with William Vickrey of Columbia University.
Mirrlees studied mathematics at the University of Edinburgh (M.A., 1957) and Trinity College, Cambridge (Ph.D., 1963). He taught at the University of Oxford (1969-95) and at Cambridge. Mirrlees's groundbreaking models and equations, published in the 1970s, illustrated the "optimal income taxation" (a progressive tax that included incentives for earning) and "moral hazard" (increasing the care taken by insurance policyholders) problems often treated in Vickrey's books. Mirrlees's methodology became the standard in the economics of asymmetrical information and was used by later economists in a variety of applications.

 


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