Douglass C. North


Douglass C. North

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Douglass C. North
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1993

Born: 5 November 1920, Cambridge, MA, USA

Died: 23 November 2015, Benzonia, MI, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA

Prize motivation: “for having renewed research in economic history by applying economic theory and quantitative methods in order to explain economic and institutional change”

Prize share: 1/2


Douglass North was born in Cambridge, MA, USA. His family moved a number of times in his childhood, and North went to school in the US, Canada and Europe. He claimed to have been a mediocre student; however he finished his Ph.D. studies in 1952 at the University of California. North served as a navigator during WWII. He was a keen photographer and worked with Dorothea Lange in the 1940s.


Douglass North’s work was primarily theoretical. He argued that technical innovations alone are insufficient to propel economic development. In order for a market economy to flourish, certain legal and social institutions must be in place. His ideas were expressed in a number of books; his groundbreaking work being The Economic Growth of the United States 1790–1860, published in 1961.

To cite this section
MLA style: Douglass C. North – Facts. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Mon. 17 Jun 2024. <>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.