ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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James Mirrlees (1936–2018)

Impact beyond Tax Theory

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James Mirrlees was born in the town of Newton Stewart in the county of Galloway in Scotland. The head mathematics teacher at his school discovered that he had a flair for mathematics and gave him individual tuition. In due course, he enrolled in Edinburgh University. Finding mathematics easy, he also read widely in literature and humanities and used his scholarship money to buy books, especially on subjects that interested him. He obtained the Napier medal in his final mathematics examination.

Soon after, following the Cambridge scholarship examination he entered Trinity College. He became a wrangler after doing Mathematics Tripos and then also took Part III, which was a preparation for becoming a research mathematician. However, he decided to study economics, because he became interested in social issues. At Cambridge, Mirrlees was a member of the Student Christian Movement through which he met his first wife Gill. He later became an atheist, but never lost the sense that economics should be used to advance human welfare. Appropriately enough, the only collection of papers he published was called Welfare, Incentives and Taxation (Mirrlees 2006). After working for a few years in Cambridge, Jim (as he was known) moved to Oxford to take up a professorship, but moved back to Cambridge as professor of political economy and fellow of Trinity College.

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Updated On : 8th Oct, 2018

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