Oliver Hart (economist)

Last updated

Oliver Hart
Nobel Laureates 0983 (31117127490).jpg
Oliver Hart at Nobel press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, December 2016
Oliver Simon D'Arcy Hart

(1948-10-09) October 9, 1948 (age 70)
London, England
Residence Cambridge, Massachusetts, US
NationalityBritish, American
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge BA
University of Warwick MA
Princeton University PhD
Spouse(s)Rita B. Goldberg
Awards Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2016)
Scientific career
Fields Law and Economics
Institutions Harvard University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
London School of Economics
Doctoral advisor Michael Rothschild
Doctoral students David S. Scharfstein [1]
Jeremy C. Stein [2]
Luigi Zingales [3]
Richard Holden

Oliver Simon D'Arcy Hart (born October 9, 1948) is a British-born American economist, currently the Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics at Harvard University. Together with Bengt R. Holmström, he received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2016.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Harvard University private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 15,250 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning, and its history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities.



Oliver Hart was born in Britain to Philip D'Arcy Hart, a medical researcher, and Ruth Meyer, a gynecologist. Both his parents were Jewish; his father was a member of the noble Montagu family; Oliver's great-grandfather was Samuel Montagu, 1st Baron Swaythling. [4]

Philip Montagu D’Arcy Hart, CBE was a seminal British medical researcher and pioneer in tuberculosis treatment.

Baron Swaythling, of Swaythling in the County of Southampton, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1907 for the British Jewish Liberal politician, banker and philanthropist, Sir Samuel Montagu, 1st Baronet. He had already been created a Baronet, of South Stoneham House in the County of Southampton and of Kensington Palace Gardens in the County of London, in 1894. As of 2010 the titles are held by his great-great-grandson, the fifth Baron, who succeeded his father in 1998.

Samuel Montagu, 1st Baron Swaythling British private banker and politician

Samuel Montagu, 1st Baron Swaythling was a British banker who founded the bank of Samuel Montagu & Co. He was a philanthropist and Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1900, and was later raised to the peerage. Montagu was a pious Orthodox Jew, and devoted himself to social services and advancing Jewish institutions.

Hart earned his BA in mathematics at King's College, Cambridge, in 1969 (where his contemporaries included the former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King), his MA in economics at the University of Warwick in 1972, and his PhD in economics at Princeton University in 1974. He was a Lecturer in Economics at University of Essex, [5] a fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge, and then a professor at the London School of Economics. In 1984, he returned to the U.S., where he taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, since 1993, at Harvard University. [6] He became the first Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics in 1997 [6] and was chairman of the Harvard economics department from 2000 to 2003. [7] He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of the Econometric Society, of the American Finance Association, a corresponding fellow of the British Academy, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has been president of the American Law and Economics Association and vice president of the American Economic Association, and has several honorary degrees. [8] He is also a Visiting Centennial Professor in the Department of Economics at the London School of Economics. [9]

Kings College, Cambridge college of the University of Cambridge

King's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. Formally The King's College of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge, the college lies beside the River Cam and faces out onto King's Parade in the centre of the city.

Bank of England Central bank of the United Kingdom

The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for the Government of the United Kingdom, it is the world's eighth-oldest bank. It was privately owned by stockholders from its foundation in 1694 until it was nationalised in 1946.

Mervyn King, Baron King of Lothbury British economist

Mervyn Allister King, Baron King of Lothbury, is a British economist and public servant who served as the Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2013.

In 2016, Hart won the Nobel Prize in Economics with Bengt Holmström for their work on contract theory, including his work on how ownership should be allocated and when contracting is beneficial over ownership. [10] [11]

Bengt Holmström Finnish economist and Nobel laureate

Bengt Robert Holmström is a Finnish economist who is currently Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Together with Oliver Hart, he received the Central Bank of Sweden Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2016.

In economics, contract theory studies how economic actors can and do construct contractual arrangements, generally in the presence of asymmetric information. Because of its connections with both agency and incentives, contract theory is often categorized within a field known as Law and economics. One prominent application of it is the design of optimal schemes of managerial compensation. In the field of economics, the first formal treatment of this topic was given by Kenneth Arrow in the 1960s. In 2016, Oliver Hart and Bengt R. Holmström both received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their work on contract theory, covering many topics from CEO pay to privatizations.


Hart is an expert on contract theory, theory of the firm, corporate finance, and law and economics. His research centers on the roles that ownership structure and contractual arrangements play in the governance and boundaries of corporations. He has used his theoretical work on firms in two legal cases as a government expert (Black and Decker v. U.S.A. and WFC Holdings Corp. (Wells Fargo) v. U.S.A.) where companies claimed tax related benefits as a result from selling some of their business. The government used Hart's research to claim that because the companies retained control of the sold assets, they could not lay claim to the tax benefits. [8] [10]

The theory of the firm consists of a number of economic theories that explain and predict the nature of the firm, company, or corporation, including its existence, behaviour, structure, and relationship to the market.

Corporate finance area of finance dealing with the sources of funding and the capital structure of corporations

Corporate finance is an area of finance that deals with sources of funding, the capital structure of corporations, the actions that managers take to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders, and the tools and analysis used to allocate financial resources. The primary goal of corporate finance is to maximize or increase shareholder value. Although it is in principle different from managerial finance which studies the financial management of all firms, rather than corporations alone, the main concepts in the study of corporate finance are applicable to the financial problems of all kinds of firms.

Law and economics or economic analysis of law is the application of economic theory to the analysis of law that began mostly with scholars from the Chicago school of economics. Economic concepts are used to explain the effects of laws, to assess which legal rules are economically efficient, and to predict which legal rules will be promulgated.

Personal life

Hart is an American citizen. [12] He is married to Rita B. Goldberg, a Harvard literature professor and author of the second-generation Holocaust memoir Motherland: Growing Up With the Holocaust. [6] [13] They have two sons and two grandsons.


Selected articles

Related Research Articles

Economist professional in the social science discipline of economics

An economist is a practitioner in the social science discipline of economics.

In economics and related disciplines, a transaction cost is a cost in making any economic trade when participating in a market.

Oliver E. Williamson American economist

Oliver Eaton Williamson is an American economist, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and recipient of the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, which he shared with Elinor Ostrom.

Michael Spence American economist

Andrew Michael Spence is a Canadian American economist and recipient of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, along with George Akerlof and Joseph E. Stiglitz, for their work on the dynamics of information flows and market development.

Sanford "Sandy" Jay Grossman is an American economist and hedge fund manager specializing in quantitative finance. Grossman’s research has spanned the analysis of information in securities markets, corporate structure, property rights, and optimal dynamic risk management. He has published widely in leading economic and business journals, including American Economic Review, Journal of Econometrics, Econometrica, and Journal of Finance. His research in macroeconomics, finance, and risk management has earned numerous awards. Grossman is currently Chairman and CEO of QFS Asset Management, an affiliate of which he founded in 1988. QFS Asset Management shut down its sole remaining hedge fund in January 2014.

Jean Tirole French economist

Jean Tirole is a French professor of economics. He focuses on industrial organization, game theory, banking and finance, and economics and psychology. In 2014 he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his analysis of market power and regulation.

The MIT Department of Economics is a department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Christopher A. Sims American time-series statistician and econometrician, developer of vector auto-regressive models, Bayesian statistician, President of the Econometric Society, 2011 winner of the Nobel Prize

Christopher Albert "Chris" Sims is an American econometrician and macroeconomist. He is currently the John J.F. Sherrerd ’52 University Professor of Economics at Princeton University. Together with Thomas Sargent, he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2011. The award cited their "empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy".

Eric Maskin American Nobel laureate in economics

Eric Stark Maskin is an American economist and 2007 Nobel laureate recognized with Leonid Hurwicz and Roger Myerson "for having laid the foundations of mechanism design theory". He is the Adams University Professor at Harvard University. Until 2011, he was the Albert O. Hirschman Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, and a visiting lecturer with the rank of professor at Princeton University.

Roger Myerson American economist

Roger Bruce Myerson is an American economist and professor at the University of Chicago. He holds the title of The Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and the College and Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies. In 2007, he was the winner of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel with Leonid Hurwicz and Eric Maskin for "having laid the foundations of mechanism design theory."

Barcelona Graduate School of Economics

The Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, commonly referred to as Barcelona GSE, is an independent institution of research and graduate education located in Barcelona, Spain. The School offers a variety of master's degrees in Economics, Finance, and Data Science. It has been ranked by RePEc among the top Economics Departments in the world.

John Halstead Hardman Moore CBE FBA FRSE is an economic theorist. He was appointed Professor of Political Economy at the University of Edinburgh School of Economics in 2000. Previously, in 1983, he was appointed to the London School of Economics, where in 1990 he became Professor of Economic Theory, a position he still holds.

Alvin E. Roth professor

Alvin Elliot Roth is an American academic. He is the Craig and Susan McCaw professor of economics at Stanford University and the Gund professor of economics and business administration emeritus at Harvard University. He was President of the American Economics Association in 2017.

Steven Neil Kaplan is the Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He started teaching at the business school in 1988, and was named Neubauer Professor in 1999. He is also the Faculty director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship, at the University.

Organizational economics involves the use of economic logic and methods to understand the existence, nature, design, and performance of organizations, especially managed ones.

In economic theory, the field of contract theory can be subdivided in the theory of complete contracts and the theory of incomplete contracts.

The Nancy L. Schwartz Memorial Lecture is a series of public lectures held every year by the Kellogg Department of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences.


  1. Scharfstein, David (1986). Market competition and incentives (Ph.D.). MIT . Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  2. Stein, Jeremy C. (1986). Economic models with heterogeneously informed participants (Ph.D.). MIT . Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  3. Zingales, Luigi (1992). The value of corporate control (Ph.D.). MIT . Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  4. "Jewish economist at Harvard shares Nobel Prize". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. October 10, 2016.
  5. Hart, Oliver. "Professor Oliver Hart" (PDF). The Biography of Oliver Hart. Harvard University. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  6. 1 2 3 "Oliver Hart Named First Andrew Furer Professor of Economics". Harvard Gazette . Harvard University. October 2, 1997. Archived from the original on March 9, 2016.
  7. McMullen, Troy (January 13, 2017). "Nobel Prize-winning economist Oliver Hart on the financial crisis". Financial Times. Financial Times. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  8. 1 2 "Oliver Hart". scholar.harvard.edu. Harvard University. January 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  9. "Nobel Prize in Economics awarded to Oliver Hart - 10 - 2016 - News archives - News and media - Website archive - Home". www.lse.ac.uk. London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  10. 1 2 Appelbaum, Binyamin (October 10, 2016). "Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom Win Nobel in Economics for Work on Contracts". New York Times . Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  11. "Popular Information - The Prize in Economic Sciences 2016" (PDF). nobelprize.org. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  12. "American-Jewish, Finnish economists win Nobel for contract theory". Times of Israel . October 10, 2016.
  13. Ringstrom, Anna; Rundstrom, Bjorn (October 10, 2016). "After Winning Economics Nobel, Oliver Hart Hugs Holocaust Memoirist Wife". The Forward .
Preceded by
Angus Deaton
Laureate of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics
Served alongside: Bengt Holmström
Succeeded by
Richard Thaler