Born In: Minnigaff, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland
Sir James A. Mirrlees was a Scottish economist who received the Nobel Prize for his research on economic incentives in 1996. He shared the Nobel Prize with William Vickrey of the ‘Columbia University’. His main contribution to the field of economics was his path-breaking research work on optimal taxation on income or a progressive taxation process which included incentives for earning. He started his research work in an era when taxes were very high and the economy was controlled centrally. He assumed that the government should tax the rich more and use it for the benefit of the poor. He also made further assumptions that the rate of taxes has a direct effect on the incentive of people to work and earn more. With these assumptions he calculated the highest marginal tax rate that should be applied on the high-income groups. The optimal tax rate that he computed was actually only 20 percent of the income and not 83 percent as was prevalent at that time in Britain. Moreover he concluded that everyone should be taxed at a flat rate of 20 percent for the maximum benefit of all wage earners. He also helped to design contracts that would provide the maximum incentives to the employees of companies.
Also Known As: Sir James Alexander Mirrlees
Died At Age: 82
Spouse/Ex-: Gill Mirrlees
children: Catriona, Fiona
Born Country: England
place of death: Cambridge, England
education: University of Edinburgh, Trinity College, Cambridge
awards: Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (1996)
He grew up in Newton Stewart before his family moved to Port William in 1950. He had a younger brother.
He joined the ‘University of Edinburg’ in 1954, and studied philosophy and mathematics as major subjects after skipping the first year of college. He obtained his B.A. and then his M.A. in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in 1957, from the same university and also won the ‘Napier Medal’.
He joined the ‘Trinity College, Cambridge’ in 1957, and added economics to his portfolio of major subjects in the hope of helping the economies of underdeveloped countries.
He moved to the ‘University of Oxford’ in 1968, and started teaching as a professor of economics. He continued with his work on the relationship between non-linear incentives and income tax that he had started while working for MIT.
In 1971, he developed the ‘Diamond – Mirrlees Efficiency Theorem’ in collaboration with Peter A. Diamond who was a professor at the MIT.
Mirrlees held the post of ‘Visiting Professor’ at MIT from 1968 to 1976, thrice, the ‘University of California’ at Berkeley in 1986, and the ‘Yale University’ in 1989.
James Mirrlees served as the President of the ‘Royal Economic Society’ from 1989 to 1992.
He returned to the ‘Trinity College’ under the ‘University of Cambridge’ in 1995, as a Professor of Political Economy.
He has been a ‘Distinguished Professor-at-large’ at ‘The Chinese University of Hong Kong’ since 2002, as well as the ‘University of Macau’.
In 2009, he was made the ‘Founding Master of Morningside College’ of ‘The Chinese University of Hong Kong’.
He also served as a visiting professor at the ‘University of Melbourne, Australia’ for several months every year.
He also headed the ‘Mirrlees Review’ formed by the ‘Institute of Fiscal studies’ for reviewing the tax system in the United Kingdom.
He published ‘Models of Economic Growth’ in 1973, and wrote a large number of papers on optimal taxation.
He was a Fellow of the ‘British Academy’, the ‘Royal Society of Edinburg’ and the ‘Econometric Society’.
He was a member of ‘Scotland’s Council of Economic Advisers’.
He was a ‘Foreign Honorary Member’ of the ‘U.S. national Academy of Sciences’ and the ‘American Economic Association’.
James Mirrlees married Gill Mirrlees in 1961, while he was still a student. Gill died in November, 1993.
He had two daughters from his marriage with Gill named Catriona and Fiona.
James Mirrlees died on August 29, 2018, at the age of 82, in Cambridge, England.
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