James Mirrlees

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Sir James Mirrlees

Sir James Mirrlees FRSE, FBA (5 July 1936 - 29 August 2018) was a Scottish economist and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. He was knighted in 1998.


  • Economics takes a while to learn, even if much of it is in a way quite simple. It is simple to be wrong as well as to be right, and it is none too easy to distinguish between them.
    • James Mirrlees in: Anders Barany, ‎Nobelstiftelsen (1996). Les Prix Nobel. p. 353

An exploration in the theory of optimum income taxation, 1971[edit]

Mirrlees, James A. "An exploration in the theory of optimum income taxation." The review of economic studies (1971): 175-208.

  • I must confess that I had expected the rigorous analysis of income taxation in the utilitarian manner to provide arguments for high tax rates. It has not done so.
    • p. 207
  • The income tax is a much less effective tool for reducing inequalities than has often been thought.
    • p. 208
  • An approximately linear income tax schedule is desirable; and in particular negative income tax proposals are strongly supported,
    • p. 209

Quotes about James Mirrlees[edit]

  • What does an income tax schedule look like, which takes account of the trade-off between equity and efficiency? This question was first asked by Mirrlees (1971) who developed the standard model of the optimal nonlinear income tax. Since then innumerable papers have generalized, refined, or corrected his analysis. It has also been realized that the second-best approach to income taxation pertains to a wide variety of economic problems such as monopoly pricing or contract theory in general. In this respect Mirrlees’ article has opened an important and fascinating strand of economic thought.
    • Stefan Homburg. "The optimal income tax: Restatement and extensions." FinanzArchiv/Public Finance Analysis (2001): 363-395.

External links[edit]

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