Maskin in 2009
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
Robert W. Vishny
David S. Scharfstein
|Awards||Nobel Memorial Prize (2007)|
|Information at IDEAS / RePEc|
Eric Stark Maskin (born December 12, 1950) is an American economist and 2007 Nobel laureate recognized with Leonid Hurwicz and Roger Myerson "for having laid the foundations of mechanism design theory". He is currently Adams University Professor and Professor of Economics and Mathematics at Harvard University.
Maskin was born in New York City on December 12, 1950, into a Jewish family, and spent his youth in Alpine, New Jersey. He graduated from Tenafly High School in Tenafly, New Jersey, in 1968. In 1972, he graduated with A.B. in Mathematics from Harvard College, the undergraduate liberal arts college of Harvard University. In 1974, he earned A.M. in Applied Mathematics and in 1976 earned a Ph.D. in applied mathematics, both at Harvard University.
In 1975-76, he was a visiting student at Darwin College, Cambridge University. In 1976, after earning his doctorate, Maskin became a research fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge University. In the following year, he joined the faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1985 he returned to Harvard as the Louis Berkman Professor of Economics, where he remained until 2000. That year, he moved to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In addition to his position at the Princeton Institute, Maskin is the director of the Jerusalem Summer School in Economic Theory at The Institute for Advanced Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2010, he was conferred an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Economics from The University of Cambodia. In 2011, Maskin has returned to Harvard again.
Maskin has worked in diverse areas of economic theory, such as game theory, the economics of incentives, and contract theory. He is particularly well known for his papers on mechanism design/implementation theory and dynamic games. His current research projects include comparing different electoral rules, examining the causes of inequality, and studying coalition formation. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Econometric Society, and the European Economic Association, and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He was president of the Econometric Society in 2003.
Maskin suggested that software patents inhibit innovation rather than stimulate progress. Software, semiconductor, and computer industries have been innovative despite historically weak patent protection, he argued. Innovation in those industries has been sequential and complementary, so competition can increase firms' future profits. In such a dynamic industry, "patent protection may reduce overall innovation and social welfare". A natural experiment occurred in the 1980s when patent protection was extended to software", wrote Maskin with co-author James Bessen. "Standard arguments would predict that R&D intensity and productivity should have increased among patenting firms. Consistent with our model, however, these increases did not occur". Other evidence supporting this model includes a distinctive pattern of cross-licensing and a positive relationship between rates of innovation and firm entry.
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Edmund S. Phelps
| Laureate of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics
Served alongside: Leonid Hurwicz, Roger B. Myerson