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Oskar Morgenstern (January 24, 1902 – July 26, 1977) was a German-born economist.He was a prominent member of the Austrian School of Economics before the Second World War and later, in collaboration with mathematician John von Neumann, he founded the mathematical field of game theory and its application to economics.


A German-born Economist. Oskar Morgenstern, best known for working with John von Neumann in the writing of the book "Theory of Games and Economic Behavior," in which Oscar founded the mathematical field of game theory and its application to economics. Morgenstern grew up in Vienna, Austria, where he also went to university. In 1925 he graduated from the University of Vienna. From 1925 until 1928 he went on a three year fellowship financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. After his return in 1928 he became a professor in economics at the University of Vienna until his visit to the Princeton University in 1938. In 1935 Morgenstern published the article Perfect Foresight and Economic Equilibrium.

When in 1939, von Neumann, one of the greatest mathematicians of the XX century, met with Oskar Morgenstern at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University, he has been clear structure of the theory of games, but it was Morgenstern persuaded him to apply it to the economy. Their book aroused great interest, and in the 50s bloomed application of game theory in economics, political science, sociology of law.

In 1944 Morgenstern became a United State citizen, and four years later he married his Dorothy Young.

In the 60th years of the interest in book began to disappear, and by the early 70's and Morgenstern himself to some extent withdrawn from a long and difficult battle for recognition of game theory as one approach to solving economic problems. As Morgenstern was not a mathematician, he could not really contribute in the development of Game Theory, however his main contribution was the economical analysis of the book. In the 60s Morgenstern worked mainly economies defense. He published a book, "The Problem of National Defense" (The Question of National Defence, Vintage, 1959)

Until his retirement in 1970, Morgenstern remained at Princeton university as a professor in economics. During this year´s Morgenstern wrote more articles and books, such as "On the Accuracy of Economic Observations". However these would not have the same impact as his work with John von Neumann had. Oskar Morgenstern died in Princeton, New Jersey in 1977.


University: PhD Political Science, University of Vienna (1925)

Professor: University of Vienna (1929-38)

Professor: Princeton University (1938-70)

Professor: New York University (1970-77)


With von Neumann, introduced games theory into economics. The problem of prediction was his starting point, and the use of formal mathematical models of games was merely suggested as a helpful approach. The burgeoning popularity of games theory has, however, resulted in a rich literature, spanning economics, sociology, and political science.

Also wrote on the economics of defence and developed von Neumann’s ideas on growth theory. Privatdozent, Professor, University Vienna, 1929-1938. Professor, University Princeton, 1938-1970.


  • Distinguished Fellow, American Economic Association, 1976.



1st wife:
Dorothy Young