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



Oliver Hart, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University

Date and Time

February 10, 2021 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM


RSVP Required.


Via Zoom Webinar.
Register https://bit.ly/3jAvFFQ

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 021021Oliver 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

Governmental agencies and non-state actors interact within health systems in complicated and sometimes controversial ways that are vital for health and well-being. These run the gamut from developing and distributing vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19 and mitigating the social and economic impact of the pandemic, to achieving and sustaining universal health coverage, addressing the social determinants of health, mitigating disparities, and encouraging innovations for healthy longevity, to name but a few. From the conceptual foundations to the daily reality of practitioners, this colloquium series will explore the evidence and experience of the public-private nexus in health sectors across Asia, in comparative global perspective. With colloquia throughout the academic year, the series features a keynote on February 10, 2021 from Nobel Laureate Oliver Hart, “A quarter century of ‘The Proper Scope of Government’: Theory and Applications” (dating from the 1996 NBER working paper subsequently published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, QJE).