James A. MIRRLEES爵士
Prof. Sir James A. MIRRLEES
Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, 1996

1996年诺贝尔经济学奖得奖者
James A. MIRRLEES爵士


莫理斯爵士1936年生于苏格兰,分别于爱丁堡大学及剑桥大学取得数学学士学位,并在1963年于剑桥大学取得经济学博士学位。1968至1995年,莫理斯爵士担任牛津大学Edgeworth经济学教授及纳菲尔德学院院士,其后出任剑桥大学政治经济学教授。他自2002年起担任香港中文大学博文讲座教授,并于2009年出任香港中文大学晨兴书院院长。
 
莫理斯爵士曾任麻省理工学院、加州柏克莱大学及耶鲁大学的访问教授。并于1989至1992年间担任皇家经济学会会长。他现为英国人文社会科学院院士、爱丁堡皇家学会荣誉会员、计量经济学学会院士,以及美国科学院海外荣誉会员。
 
1996年,不对称信息条件下的经济激励理论令莫理斯爵士与威廉·维克里一同获颁诺贝尔经济学奖。他于1997年获册封为爵士,以表扬他在经济学上的卓越成就。
 
莫理斯爵士的研究旨在探讨最优所得税率。他指出,雇员会因应所需缴交的税额而调整付出的劳力,但政府却无从得知个别市民的生产力。在这种情况下,他认为高税率会降低雇员的工作意欲,反之,低税率则会令政府出现财赤。他因此提出了著名的最优所得税率理论,既考虑到政府只能掌握有限信息,又能平衡效率及保障公平。
 
莫理斯爵士的另一项杰出贡献是关于「道德风险」的研究。举例来说,全面的保险会降低投保者预防风险的意欲,保险公司的利润会因此减少。他的理论说明了该如何拟定合约条款,以鼓励客户跳脱既定的行为模式。此理论亦可用于雇员合约条款,用奖励的方式来激励员工,替公司赚取最高利润。
 
他的理论为复杂信息与诱因的近代研究奠下了基础,其创见亦可应用于很多其他类似问题上。

Sir James Mirrlees was born in Scotland in 1936.  He received degrees in Mathematics from both University of Edinburgh and Cambridge University.  In 1963, He completed a Ph.D. in Economics at Cambridge University with a rather mathematical thesis on saving under uncertainty.  He learned about development economics during a year in India before returning to Cambridge as a Lecturer.  From 1968 to 1995, he was Edgeworth Professor of Economics in Oxford, and a fellow of   Nuffield College.  In 1995, he became Professor of Political Economy in Cambridge and retired in 2003.  In 2002, he was appointed Distinguished Professor-at-Large in the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).  He is now Master of Morningside College in CUHK.
 
Sir James Mirrlees was a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, and Yale University.  From 1989 to 1992, he acted as President of the Royal Economic Society.  He is a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Econometric Society and a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences.    
 
In 1996, he shared a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics with William Vickrey, for contributions to the theory of incentives under asymmetric information.  He was knighted in 1997 for his outstanding achievement in Economics.
 
His research focuses on optimal taxation and contracts.  He assumed that employees take tax schedule into consideration when choosing their labour supply.   Government does not know the productivity of individual citizens.  In such a case, a high tax rate will discourage people from working hard.  On the contrary, a low tax rate will lead to government budget deficits.  He developed a theory of optimal income taxation.  The theory takes account of the limited information available to government and shows how to balance efficiency and equity.
 
His significant contributions also include research on moral hazard.  For instance, full insurance coverage encourages individuals to take more risks, lowering the profit of the insurance company.  The theory shows how to construct a contract that provides correct incentives for behaviour that cannot be observed.  This theory can be applied to employment contracts, using rewards to encourage employees to maximise company’s profit, and to insurance contracts. 
 
Sir James Mirrlees laid the foundation for modern research on complex information and incentives.  His research can be applied to various similar situations.
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