A Quarter Century of 'The Proper Scope of Government': Theory and Applications

Sponsored by Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center


Wednesday, February 10, 2021
11:00 am – 12:30 pm
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This event is part of the Asia Health Policy Program (AHPP) 2020-21 Colloquium series "Health, medicine, and longevity: Exploring public and private roles"

A quarter century ago in a seminal paper, Hart, Shleifer and Vishny (NBER1996, QJE1997) developed a theory of the ‘Proper Scope of Government.’ In this webinar, Oliver Hart, 2016 Nobel Laureate, reflects on that framework and its place in economics, as well as the inspiration for his more recent work on norms and guiding principles, contracts as reference points, maximizing shareholder welfare, and exit versus voice. In discussion with Karen Eggleston, Hart answers questions posed by economists who have built upon that paper and offers insights on how the theory applies to understanding public and private roles in healthcare, education, and other publicly-financed services. With China, India, and many other emerging markets engaged in decades-long controversies about public and private roles in their health sectors, and international focus on public-private partnerships for COVID-19 response and harnessing innovation to address other global challenges, this is an opportune time to discuss how conceptually rigorous thinking can inform a sometimes divisive and ideological debate with vital implications for human welfare.

Oliver Hart is currently the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1993. He is the 2016 co-recipient of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the American Finance Association, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association, and has several honorary degrees. Hart works mainly on contract theory, the 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. He has published a book (Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure, Oxford University Press, 1995) and numerous journal articles. He has used his theoretical work on firms and contracts in several legal cases. He has been president of the American Law and Economics Association and a vice president of the American Economic Association.

This keynote is part of the Stanford Asia Health Policy Program colloquium series entitled:  Health, medicine, and longevity: Exploring public and private roles

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