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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
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 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. He became the first Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics
in 1997 and was chairman of the Harvard economics department from 2000 to 2003.
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.[7] He is also
a Visiting Centennial Professor in the Department of Economics at the London
School of Economics.
In 2016, Hart won the Nobel Prize in Economics with Bengt Holmstrm for their work
on contract theory, including his work on how ownership should be allocated and
when contracting is beneficial over ownership.

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

Personal life
Hart is an American citizen. 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. They have two sons and two grandsons.
Selected articles

"On the Optimality of Equilibrium when the Market Structure is Incomplete",

Journal of Economic Theory, December 1975, 418443
"Takeover Bids, the Free-rider problem, and the Theory of the Corporation"
(with Sanford J. Grossman), Bell Journal of Economics, Spring 1980, 4264
"An Analysis of the principalagent problem" (with Sanford J.
Grossman), Econometrica (January 1983) 746.
"The Market Mechanism as an Incentive Scheme," Bell Journal of Economics, 14
(Autumn 1983) 366-82.
"The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral
Integration" (with Sanford J. Grossman), Journal of Political Economy, August
1986, 691719.
"One Share-One vote and the Market for Corporate Control" (with Sanford J.
Grossman), Journal of Financial Economics, 1988
"Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation" (with John Hardman
Moore), Econometrica 56(4) (July 1988).
"Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm" (with John Hardman
Moore), Journal of Political Economy 98(6) (1990).
" A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital " (with John
Hardman Moore), Quarterly Journal of Economics, November 1994, 841879
"The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons"
(with Andrei Shleifer and Robert W. Vishny), Quarterly Journal of
Economics 112(4) (1997) 112661.
"Contracts as Reference Points" (with John Hardman Moore), Quarterly Journal
of Economics, February 2008,148.

Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom were awarded the Nobel Memorial Prizein
Economic Science on Monday for their work on improving the design of
contracts, the deals that bind together employers and their workers, or
companies and their customers.

Modern economies are held together by innumerable contracts, the Royal

Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awarded the prize, said Monday
morning. Their analysis of optimal contractual arrangements lays an
intellectual foundation for designing policies and institutions in many areas,
from bankruptcy legislation to political constitutions.

The prize committee in recent years has shied away from grand economic
theories, instead rewarding economists who develop careful insights about
smaller questions. Macroeconomics, the field devoted to those broader
questions, has fallen into something of an existential crisis in recent years.
There is, for now, greater certainty about the value of work on a smaller scale.
His research provides us with theoretical tools for studying questions such as
which kinds of companies should merge, the proper mix of debt and equity
financing, and which institutions such as schools or prisons ought to be
privately or publicly owned, the academy said in a summary of his work.

Dr. Holmstrom, speaking via an audio connection to a news conference hosted

by the academy, said he had been very surprised and very happy to get the
news. Asked how his day was going, he said there was a sense of things being

Dr. Hart said he had hugged his wife, roused his son from sleep and spoken by
phone with Dr. Holmstrom, a close friend whom he has known for years.

I woke at about 4:40 and was wondering whether it was getting too late for it
to be this year, but then fortunately the phone rang, Dr. Hart said.