Elinor Ostrom

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The first woman to receive a Nobel Prize in economics

Elinor Ostrom was born in the United States in 1933 and died in 2012.

A political science researcher, the work of Ostrom is a challenge to the traditional theories that maintain that common property, such as forests, lakes, pastures, or irrigation systems are managed poorly by their users, and in need of a state intervention or privatization.

Elinor was professor of Political Science and co-director of the “Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis” at Indiana University. She was also the founding director of the Centre for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University.

Elinor analysed numerous studies on user management of these goods and observed that the results contradicted conventional theories. In many occasions, the beneficiaries develop sophisticated mechanisms for decision making and effective rules for resolving conflicts of interest. This has made the preservation of these common goods possible, and avoided the degradation of the environment.

She was awarded the Nobel in Economics in 2009, for her theories on th e management of shared resources, or The Commons, being the first woman to win the prize in this field.

«Little by little, bit by bit, family by family, so much good can be done on so many levels.»