Thráinn Eggertsson is a distinguished social scientist from Iceland who studies how the legal and social environments of economic actors emerge and evolve, and how they shape economic opportunities, incentives, and outcomes. He follows an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on the social sciences, law and history. His well-known Economic Behavior and Institutions (Cambridge University Press 1990), translated into six languages, employs the concepts of property rights and transaction costs to build a unified approach for analyzing economic outcomes, economic organization, and institutional environments.
Educated in England and the United States, he has been an Economist with Iceland’s Central Bank and served as Dean of the Economics and Business Faculty at the University of Iceland. Dr. Eggertsson often uses the history of his native Iceland as a laboratory for identifying social regularities of general interest. He has been deeply influenced by Douglass North, the economic historian and Nobel Prize winner. Together with Lee Alston, Dr. Eggertsson and North edited Empirical Studies in Institutional Change (1996). With Randall Calvert, he edits for Cambridge University Press the prestigious series Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions. Dr. Eggertsson’s new book Imperfect Institutions: Possibilities and Limits of Reform (University of Michigan Press, 2005) looks at the causes of economic decline and the nature of institutional reform. His recent research interests include the evolution of property rights in biotechnology industries and the role of model building in individual decision-making.
He has been a Visiting Professor and scholar at the University of North Carolina, Washington University, Indiana University, Stanford University, and Columbia University. He has been Senior Research Fellow with the Max Planck Society in Germany and an Honorary Professor at the University of Hong Kong.