USAID-Funded Economist Wins Nobel Prize

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
USAID Press Office

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A researcher for an international program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) won the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics for her work on how community institutions can prevent conflict.

Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to win the prize in its 40-year history, is a researcher for the Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Collaborative Research Support Program (SANREM CRSP), managed by Virginia Tech.

Ostrom is a professor of political science at Indiana University and founding director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University. Her work centers on how communities manage their common lands and natural resources such as pastures, lakes, and forests. Though the approach in recent decades has been to regulate or limit the use of such resources or to privatize them, Ostrom's research finds that common property is often very well managed by the people who use it.

"Bureaucrats sometimes do not have the correct information, while citizens and users of resources do," Ostrom said by phone at the press conference announcing her award.

In announcing the award Monday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Ostrom "for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons." Ostrom was the principal investigator for SANREM CRSP research on how government policy reforms such as decentralization do not automatically translate into new property rights for forest users or show clear benefits to the environment.

“On behalf of the United States Agency for International Development, I wish to congratulate Dr. Ostrom on receiving the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics,” said Alonzo Fulgham, USAID’s acting administrator. “Our agency is enormously proud to have played a part in her ground-breaking research."

The USAID-funded SANREM CRSP is a $27 million, 10-year initiative that conducts applied research to develop knowledge and tools that promote environmentally sustainable agriculture and natural resource management. SANREM CRSP also supports partnerships among scientists in the United States and in developing countries to increase food security, manage natural resources wisely, reduce poverty, and empower women and other underrepresented groups. Seventeen U.S. universities participate in the SANREM partnership.

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Last updated: October 16, 2017

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