Sir James Mirrlees FBA

Economics: economic theory, public finance, development especially in Asia

Elected 1984

Fellow type
UK Fellow
Year of birth
Year of death
Year elected

Sir James Mirrlees was born and brought up in a small town in Scotland. His first two degrees, from Edinburgh and Cambridge, were in mathematics. His doctorate was in economics, with a highly mathematical thesis on saving under uncertainty. After a year in India, doing development economics, he returned to Cambridge, as Assistant Lecturer in economics and Fellow of Trinity College. Five years later he went to Oxford as Edgeworth Professor of Economics. After twenty-seven years there, he became Professor of Political Economy in Cambridge, until retirement in 2003. Since then he has been Distinguished Professor-at-Large in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and is now Master of Morningside College there. His main work is in the theory of public finance, the economics of uncertainty, and development economics. In 1996 he shared a Nobel Memorial Prize in economics with William Vickrey, for contributions to the theory of incentives under asymmetric information. He had solved the problem of devising and solving a model of optimal income taxation.

Current post

Distinguished Professor-at-Large and Master, Morningside College,

Past appointments

The Chinese University of Hong Kong Distinguished Professor-at-Large; and Master, Morningside College

2006 - 2015

University of Cambridge Emeritus Professor of Political Economy

1995 -

University of Oxford Edgeworth Professor of Economics

1968 - 1995

University of Cambridge Lecturer in Economics

1963 - 1968


Optimal taxation and public production American Economic Review 1971

An exploration in the theory of optimum income taxation Review of Economic Studies 1971

Project appraisal and planning for developing countries 1974

Sign up to our email newsletters