MacArthur Fellows Program

Avner Greif

Economist and Historian of Economics | Class of 1998

Economist and Historian of Economics
Stanford, California
43 at time of award
Area of Focus
Published July 1, 1998

About Avner's Work

Avner Greif is an economist and a historian of economics.

Greif uses game theory and other modeling techniques to show how beliefs, institutions, and other social ties, which appear to be randomly connected, are linked, in fact, to cultural norms of trust and reciprocity. His work emphasizes the centrality of transaction costs, property rights, contractual arrangements, and enforcement structures to the evolution of human societies. Greif promotes the theory that the notions and practices surrounding trust in economic transaction create institutions to perpetuate these beliefs. His scholarship suggests implications for the study of culture and is influencing other social science disciplines that investigate the relationships among interests, ethics, and rational choice.


Greif is the Bowman Family Professor in the Humanities and Sciences and a professor of economics at Stanford University. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Political Economy, the Journal of Economic History, and the American Economic Review. He is the author of the book, Institutions and Trade During the Late Medieval Period (1997).

Greif received a B.A. (1981) and an M.A. (1985) from Tel Aviv University, and an M.A. (1988) and a Ph.D. (1989) from Northwestern University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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