Elinor Ostrom was born Elinor Claire Awan in Los Angeles, California, the only child of Leah (born Hopkins) and Adrian Awan. Her father was Jewish, while her mother was Protestant. She attended a Protestant church and often spent weekends staying with her aunt, one of her father's sisters, who kept a kosher home. Her parents were poor, especially when her father left her mother.
She married political scientist Vincent Ostrom in 1963.
Join the debate team in the junior year of high school and participated actively in speech competitions around the state, was also a member of a swimming team.
Ostrom graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1951 and then received a B.A. (with honors) in political science at UCLA, in 1954. She was awarded an M.A. in 1962 and a PhD in 1965, both from UCLA Department of Political Science.
In 1973, she co-founded the "Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis" at Indiana University with her husband, Vincent Ostrom. Examining the use of collective action, trust, and cooperation in the management of common pool resources (CPR), her institutional approach to public policy, known as the Institutional analysis and development framework (IAD), has been considered sufficiently distinct to be thought of as a separate school of public choice theory. She authored many books in the fields of organizational theory, political science, and public administration.
In 2009 was awarded The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel "for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons". Contribution: Challenged the conventional wisdom by demonstrating how local property can be successfully managed by local commons without any regulation by central authorities or privatization.
Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990)
Institutional Incentives and Sustainable Development: Infrastructure Policies in Perspective, with Larry Schroeder and Susan Wynne (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1993)
Rules, Games, and Common-Pool Resources, with Roy Gardner and James Walker (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994)
Sport & Clubs
co-recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2009):