*Elinor Ostrom: An Intellectual Biography*

by on January 18, 2017 at 2:32 am in Books, Economics, Political Science | Permalink

By Vlad Tarko, order your copy here.  Here are two excerpts:

She went to Beverly Hills High School, across the street from her house.  “I’m very grateful for that opportunity,” she later recalled, “because 90 percent of the kids who went to Beverly Hills High School went on to college.  I don’t think I would have gone to college if not for that environment.”  She recalled that her “mother didn’t want me to go to college — [she] saw no reason whatsoever to do that…”

“Basically I put my husband through law school,” she recalled…Her own [first] husband objected to her getting a PhD, which led her to divorce him.

This book captures the essence of Elinor Ostrom.

1 prior_test2 January 18, 2017 at 6:15 am

‘This book captures the essence of Elinor Ostrom.’

That she doesn’t put up with sexists?

2 Pensans January 18, 2017 at 7:39 am

That she was a vow breaker?

3 4ChanMan January 18, 2017 at 9:41 am

Oh come on now, most of you readers here are proud cuckolds anyway

4 4ChanMan January 18, 2017 at 10:23 am

Though not as proud as me! I LOVE BBC

5 rayward January 18, 2017 at 7:08 am

I would guess that Ms. Ostrom would oppose the privatization of natural resources (commons) that is central to Trump’s economic plan (such as it is), although she also opposed government control (management) of natural resources, preferring instead something between the public and the private. As I understand it, Ms. Ostrow was influenced in her scholarship by the consequences of privatization of vast land areas: it concentrated most of the population in cities, where squalid conditions eventually led to an expansion of government. Today, it’s conventional wisdom that cities are centers of economic vitality (especially cities on the coasts, but also inland in places such as Indianapolis, which is the subject of a NYT article today – https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/business/indianapolis-real-estate-tech.html?ref=business), while rural areas are centers of economic malaise and despair, those residing there choosing to vote for the authoritarian demagogue Trump. Would Ms. Ostrow’s views be different if her views had been shaped by today’s events rather than the events of many decades ago?

6 rayward January 18, 2017 at 7:25 am

Ostrom not Ostrow: sometimes the world seems like it’s upside down.

7 Brad January 18, 2017 at 8:17 am

That’s an odd reading of Ostrom’s intellectual history, considering so much of her work on solutions to CPR problems grew out of work in Los Angeles in the post-war years, which was hardly known for its squalid conditions. The issue for her wasn’t privatization of last land areas, but rather failings by market and state at solving commons issues, and the ability of local communities (be they alpine farmers or water districts in LA) to solve these better.

8 Jhanley January 18, 2017 at 8:27 am

Ostrom was not opposed to all privatization of common pool resources. She just demonstrated that there was a way to manage them other than privatization or government control that in many, but not all, cases was the better way.

9 Hazel Meade January 18, 2017 at 9:46 am

Yes. Her work is anarchist-communitarian, not statist. Her work advances local control – she would probably be in favor of the federal government turning over BLM land in Nevada to local governments.

10 Kenny January 18, 2017 at 10:56 am

Why think she would care specifically about the level of government that controls it? Wouldn’t her concern rather be about the structures and practices by which it is managed, rather than the legal status of who technically is the owner?

11 rayward January 18, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Ms. Ostrom was making the same rural-city distinction as Jefferson and Hamilton: the yeoman farmer valued independence, thrift, and hard work while the city dweller was dependent, spendthrift, and shiftless. Granting vast tracts of land to the aristocracy had the unintended consequence of concentrating the bulk of the population in cities, where their dependence, spendthrift ways, and overall laziness produced squalor and an expanding government to address it. George Washington surveyed the vast Ohio Territory and was incensed when the British refused to give it to him. Brexit might have even greater meaning to Americans if the British hadn’t done something so foolhardy as to deny Washington what was rightfully his. Speaking of Washington, if you build it they will come, which was the motto of those who chose to create an entirely new city for the nation’s capital in what was essentially a swamp, opening up opportunities for well-connected speculators and hucksters but attracting a large population of the dependent, spendthrift, and shiftless.

12 dearieme January 18, 2017 at 9:44 am

If natural resources are owned by the US they may not commons, but merely government-owned. Unless economists have purloined the term “commons” and changed its meaning (as distinct from simply extending its meaning in an intellectually coherent way).

13 Jack January 18, 2017 at 10:12 am

The most important thing about this woman is that she divorced her husband because he supposedly didn’t want her to get a PhD? — and, as if anyone who was not in the marriage would really know the reason for the divorce.

14 Barkley Rosser January 18, 2017 at 11:16 am

No no no, Jack, the most important thing is that she was a very bad girl who disobeyed her wise mother.

As it is, you come across as kind of a jackass, Jack. Maybe you should go jack off somewhere, Jack, rather than making such stupid remarks here.

15 Barkley Rosser January 18, 2017 at 11:18 am

BTW, I apololgize to everybody but Jack for this last post, but, heck, I just could not resist, :-).

16 Datroof Jackson January 18, 2017 at 11:35 am

Barkley, you may not come across as professorial, but you’re certainly vulgar and unfunny.

17 Barkley Rosser January 20, 2017 at 5:02 pm


I may be vulgar. But at least I am not the worst human being ever elected to be president of the United States.

18 Jonathan Pine January 18, 2017 at 11:33 am

I dated a girl who had to attend college classes secretly. Her family did not want her to attend college. When her father found out she was taking college classes her forced her to drop out and move back to their native country.

19 Yancey Ward January 18, 2017 at 12:35 pm

So, she grew up in Beverly Hills. I didn’t know that.

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