James Alexander Mirrlees
Scottish economist known for his analytic research on economic incentives
in situations with incomplete, or asymmetrical, information. He shared
the 1996 Nobel Prize for Economics with William Vickrey of Columbia
Mirrlees studied mathematics at the University of Edinburgh (M.A., 1957)
and Trinity College, Cambridge (Ph.D., 1963). He taught at the University
of Oxford (1969-95) and at Cambridge. Mirrlees's groundbreaking models
and equations, published in the 1970s, illustrated the "optimal
income taxation" (a progressive tax that included incentives for
earning) and "moral hazard" (increasing the care taken by
insurance policyholders) problems often treated in Vickrey's books.
Mirrlees's methodology became the standard in the economics of asymmetrical
information and was used by later economists in a variety of applications.