First Woman to Win Nobel Prize in Economics
Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for economics, died on Tuesday from cancer, She was 78.
Ostrom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2011 and died of the disease on June 12, 2012. She was survived by her husband. On the day of her death, she published her last article, "Green from the Grassroots."
Ostrom was born Elinor Claire Awan in Los Angeles, California, the only child of Leah and Adrian Awan. Her father was Jewish, while her mother was Protestant. She attended a Protestant church and often spent weekends staying with her aunt, one of her father's sisters, who kept a kosher home.
Ostrom graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1951 and then received a B.A. (with honors) in political science at UCLA, in 1954. She was awarded an M.A. in 1962 and a PhD in 1965, both from UCLA Department of Political Science.
She married political scientist Vincent Ostrom in 1963.
In 1973, she co-founded the "Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis" at Indiana University with her husband, Vincent Ostrom. Examining the use of collective action, trust, and cooperation in the management of common pool resources, her institutional approach to public policy, known as the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework, has been considered sufficiently distinct to be thought of as a separate school of public choice theory. She authored many books in the fields of organizational theory, political science, and public administration.
Ostrom's work emphasized how humans interact with ecosystems to maintain long-term sustainable resource yields. Common pool resources include many forests, fisheries, oil fields, grazing lands, and irrigation systems. She conducted her field studies on the management of pasture by locals in Africa and irrigation systems management in villages of western Nepal (e.g. Dang). Her work has considered how societies have developed diverse institutional arrangements for managing natural resources and avoiding ecosystem collapse in many cases, even though some arrangements have failed to prevent resource exhaustion. Her work emphasized the multifaceted nature of human–ecosystem interaction and argues against any singular "panacea" for individual social-ecological system problems.
Ostrom was a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and past president of the American Political Science Association and the Public Choice Society. In 1999 she became the first woman to receive the prestigious Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science.
She was awarded the John J. Carty Award from the National Academy of Sciences in 2004, and in 2005 received the James Madison Award by the American Political Science Association. In 2008, she received the William H. Riker Prize in political science, and became the first woman to do so. In 2009, she received the Tisch Civic Engagement Research Prize from the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. In 2010, Utne Reader magazine included Ostrom as one of the "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World." She was named one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2012.
The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) awarded its Honorary Fellowship to her in 2002.