Famous People: William Vickrey

William Spencer Vickrey was born on June 21, 1914, in Victoria, and is the only Nobel laureate born in BC.


Vickrey attended high school in Andover, Mass., and earned his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Yale University in 1935. He went on to obtain his Masters in 1937, and then his Ph.D. in 1948 at Columbia University. He worked for the National Resources Planning Board in Washington, and the Division of Tax Research in the US Treasury Department, before returning to Columbia to become a professor. Vickrey began teaching at Columbia in 1946 and retired in 1982.


In 1996, Vickrey was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with James Mirrlees based on their research into economic theory of incentives under asymmetric information.


Vickrey received notice of his Nobel Prize just three days before he passed away. He died of heart failure while travelling to a conference of Georgist academics, an event he hadn’t missed in 20 years. Vickrey’s colleague, C. Lowell Harriss, from the Columbia University economics department, accepted the prize posthumously on Vickrey’s behalf. There are only three cases of the Nobel Prize being awarded posthumously.

For more information, visit http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/laureates/1996/vickrey-bio.html.


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