Elinor Ostrom | Women in Economics

Marginal Revolution University
Elinor Ostrom

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The first episode of our new Women in Economics series is about the only woman to have won the Nobel Prize in economics: Elinor Ostrom. Ostrom is best known for her work on the tragedy of the commons. A typical example involves wild tuna. No one owns the tuna in the ocean, so anyone is free to fish out as much as they want. This creates an incentive to quickly fish out as much of the tuna as possible, leading to a rapid decrease in the tuna supply. By doing on-the-ground fieldwork, Ostrom saw that this model does not always play out in real communities. She discovered that local group norms can effectively regulate the consumption of common resources.

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