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The Comparative Study of Public Economies

Elinor Ostrom

The American Economist, 2016, vol. 61, issue 1, 91-107

Abstract: Editor’s Introduction Originally published in Volume 42, Number 1, Spring 1998, pages 3-17 . Eleven years before she was recognized with the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012) published this paper in The American Economist. Originally trained in political science, Professor Ostrom’s life work centered on understanding how the collective action of groups organized and managed common pool resources. The various ways that human societies solve the “problem of the commons†was a central theme of much of Professor Ostrom’s research in public economics. In this paper, Professor Ostrom examines the study of institutions developed to provide for the collective consumption of public goods. She uses the example of providing policing functions within metropolitan areas. The questions raised about optimal size, scope, and institutional organization remain topical for the twenty-first century. To date, Professor Ostrom remains the only woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in economics.

Date: 2016
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DOI: 10.1177/0569434515626858

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