Elinor Ostrom, RIP

June 12, 2012

by Mario Rizzo

This will not be a review of her scholarly contributions. I have already made some attempt at that in a post shortly after her richly-deserved Nobel prize in economics. And I also link an announcement of her death here. 

I met Professor Ostrom at a celebration of her work at GMU after she won the prize. I was fortunate enough to be invited to dinner with her and just a few other people afterwards. I was so positively impressed by her, first, as a human being. She was kind, funny and liked a good scotch. (I stuck with the wine.) As a scholar, she was not only brilliant but she was non-dogmatic about methods, willing to learn from others, and had a wonderful combination of humility and self-confidence. She knew how important a good story is to the advancement of science, and not just heuristically.

She and Peter Boettke apparently “clicked” academically. After all, he saw her importance and published a book about her work before the Nobel Committee recognized her (and 99% of all economists ever heard of her!).

At the end of obituaries it is customary to say “she will be missed.” But, really, this time she will be missed by more than her family and friends, but by all of those who learned from her writings or from her in person. We carry on —  impoverished by her death, enriched by her life.

3 Responses to “Elinor Ostrom, RIP”

  1. Becky Hargrove Says:

    Each glass of scotch I pour in the future, I will think of her.


  2. [...] Mario Rizzo (ThinkMarkets): Elinor Ostrom, RIP. [...]

  3. chidemkurdas Says:

    I think in an interview years ago she said that her hope is to provide a valid theory of self-organization and self-governance. But the way she went about that great project was different from how other economists go about it–she looked at old institutions of self-organization and self-governance, rather than construct pie-in-the-sky optimizing models. Her contribution is really unique.


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