He received a B.S. from Harvard University in 1945 and a Ph.D. in 1950. He worked at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica from 1949 to 1955. He then taught at the University of Chicago from 1955 to 1960, and at UCLA until 2001. Hirshleifer was well known for his work on uncertainty and information in economics, the economic analysis of conflict, and bioeconomics. His undergraduate textbook, Price Theory and Applications, went into seven editions. A 1958 article by Hirshleifer began the triumphant comeback of Irving Fisher's theory of capital and interest, now deemed canonical. While at Rand Corporation, Hirshleifer wrote a report which tore apart the Department of Water and Power's feasibility report for the Oroville Dam, noting among other things that the report failed to include the cost of building the dam. The dam ended up being built. (Cadillac Desert, Chapter 10).