Oliver Simon D'Arcy Hart
October 9, 1948
|Alma mater||King's College, Cambridge (B.A.)|
University of Warwick (M.A.)
Princeton University (Ph.D.)
|Spouse||Rita B. Goldberg|
|Awards||Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2016)|
|Fields||Law and Economics|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
London School of Economics
|Doctoral advisor||Michael Rothschild|
|Doctoral students||David S. Scharfstein|
Jeremy C. Stein
Sir Oliver Simon D'Arcy Hart[a] (born October 9, 1948) is a British-born American economist, currently the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. Together with Bengt R. Holmström, he received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2016.
Oliver Hart was born in Britain to Philip D'Arcy Hart, a medical researcher, and Ruth Meyer, a gynecologist. Both his parents were Jewish; his father was a member of the Montagu family; Oliver's great-grandfather was Samuel Montagu, 1st Baron Swaythling.
Hart earned his B.A. in mathematics at King's College, Cambridge, in 1969 (where his contemporaries included the former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King), his M.A. in economics at the University of Warwick in 1972, and his Ph.D. in economics at Princeton University in 1974. He completed his doctoral dissertation, titled "Essays in the economics of uncertainty", under the supervision of Michael Rothschild. He was a lecturer in economics at University of Essex, a fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge, and then a professor at the London School of Economics. In 1984, he returned to the U.S., where he taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, since 1993, at Harvard University. He became the first Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics in 1997 and was chairman of the Harvard economics department from 2000 to 2003. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of the Econometric Society, of the American Finance Association, a corresponding fellow of the British Academy, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has been president of the American Law and Economics Association and vice president of the American Economic Association, and has several honorary degrees.
In 2016, Hart won the Nobel Prize in Economics with Bengt Holmström for their work on contract theory, including his work on how ownership should be allocated and when contracting is beneficial over ownership.
Hart was knighted in the 2023 Birthday Honours for services to economic theory.
Hart is an expert on contract theory, theory of the firm, corporate finance, and law and economics. His research centers on the roles that ownership structure and contractual arrangements play in the governance and boundaries of corporations. His research has emphasized the importance of contractual incompleteness — the inability of parties to contract on every contingency. He has used his theoretical work on firms in two legal cases as a government expert (Black and Decker v. U.S.A. and WFC Holdings Corp. (Wells Fargo) v. U.S.A.) where companies claimed tax related benefits as a result from selling some of their business. The government used Hart's research to claim that because the companies retained control of the sold assets, they could not lay claim to the tax benefits.
Hart holds dual British and United States citizenship.
He is married to Rita B. Goldberg, a Harvard literature professor and author of the second-generation Holocaust memoir Motherland: Growing Up With the Holocaust. They have two sons and two grandsons.