Biography: Elinor Ostrom

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Life and work of Elinor Ostrom|
Nobel prize winner for Economical Sciences in 2009| |
Alexa Andra|



Early Life and Education4
1.Positions held6
2.Early work8
3.Later work8
Nobel Prize9
1.Small review of Elinor Ostrom research10
2.Prize lecture11


Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012), or cordially, Eli Ostron is the recipient of a great number of international awards and honorary degrees in the field of economic governance, but she received the greatest recognition worldwide when she became the first, and the only woman so far, who won the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences in 2009.

Elinor Ostrom’s life and career is impressive. She was an American political economist, leading great research in how people manage the common resources. She believed that instead of privatization or government involvement, it is better for a country to have common pooled ownership of natural resources, with the assumprion that decision-making process is transparent and democratic. Her studies “showed that when individuals have to answer for their actions to others depending on the same resources, ex. fishing grounds or common pastures, their approach to shared responsibility changes. Elinor Ostrom has demonstrated how common property can be successfully managed by user associations and that economic analysis can shed light on most forms of social organization.” (

In her late life she worked as Distinguished Professor at Indiana University Bloomington, where in 1973 together with her husband Vincent Ostrom, founded the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. In addition to her positions at Indiana University, she also works as Research Professor and founding director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University.

In 1963, Elinor Ostrom had a successful marriage with Vincent Ostrom. Together they made numerous contributions to the field of political science as co-worker.. Elinor passed away in june 2012 in Bloomington at the age of 78 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, just two weeks after his husband’s death.

After Elinor Ostrom’s death, Lauren Robel, IU Bloomington provost and university executive vice president said that “Beyond her incredible achievements as a scholar, she was also remarkable for her humility, kindness and boundless curiosity. Although she will be deeply missed, we take comfort in knowing that her work on the campus will carry on through the Workshop that now bears her and Vincent's names.”

Early Life and Education

Elinor Ostrom, was born in Los Angeles, California, on August 7, 1933, as Elinor Claire Awan. She was the only child of a poor family. Her mother, Leah (born Hopkins) was a protestant woman, while her father Adrian Awan was a jewish man. Things in the family got even worst when her father left her mother and Elinor had to spend a lot of time with her father’s sister, attendint the protestant church.

Elinor grew up during the Great Depression. Her family managed to live by planting vegetable garden and fruit trees in the backyard. She grew up learning ”how to grow vegetables and how to can apricots and peaches during the heat of summer.” ( During World War II, Elinor learned how to knit scarves for the "boys overseas."

About her early years, Elinor Ostrom said that " My childhood was spent learning and doing the traditional activities of a girl during the last century. My major recreational activity was swimming, and I eventually joined a swimming team and swam competitively until I started teaching swimming to earn funds that I could save to help put me through college”.(

As her family’s house was situated in Beverly Hills, she attended the Beverly Hills High School, where she graduated in...
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