Oskar Morgenstern

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Oskar Morgenstern
Born (1902-01-24)January 24, 1902
Görlitz, German Empire
Died July 26, 1977(1977-07-26) (aged 75)
Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
Nationality Austrian and American

Princeton University
New York University

Mathematica Policy Research
Alma mater University of Vienna
Influences Othmar Spann
Contributions Game theory, Mathematical economics

Oskar Morgenstern (January 24, 1902 – July 26, 1977) was a German-born economist. In collaboration with mathematician John von Neumann, he founded the mathematical field of game theory and its application to economics (see von Neumann–Morgenstern utility theorem).[1][2]


Morgenstern was born in Görlitz, Germany. His mother was said to be an illegitimate daughter of Emperor Frederick III of Germany.[3][4][5][6][7]

Morgenstern grew up in Vienna, Austria, where he also went to university. In 1925 he graduated from the University of Vienna and got his PhD in political science. From 1925 until 1928 he went on a three-year fellowship financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. After his return in 1928 he became a professor in economics at the University of Vienna until his visit to Princeton University in 1938. In 1935 Morgenstern published the article Perfect Foresight and Economic Equilibrium, after which his colleague, Eduard Čech, pointed him to an article of John von Neumann, Zur Theorie der Gesellschaftsspiele(1928). During Morgenstern's visit to Princeton University, Adolf Hitler took over Vienna through the Anschluss Österreichs and Morgenstern decided to remain in the United States. He became a member of the faculty at Princeton but gravitated toward the Institute for Advanced Study. There, he met the mathematician John von Neumann and they collaborated to write Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, published in 1944, which is recognized as the first book on game theory. Game Theory is a mathematical framework for the study of strategic structures which govern rational decision-making in certain economic, political and military situations.

The collaboration between economist Morgenstern and mathematician von Neumann led to the birth of entirely new areas of investigation in both mathematics and economics. These have attracted widespread academic and practical interest since that time. In 1944 Morgenstern also became a United States citizen, and four years later he married Dorothy Young. In 1950 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.[8] Morgenstern remained at Princeton as a professor of economics until his retirement in 1970, at which time he joined the faculty of New York University. Morgenstern wrote many other articles and books, including On the Accuracy of Economic Observations, and Predictability of Stock Market Prices with subsequent Nobel laureate Clive Granger.

Morgenstern died in Princeton, New Jersey in 1977. The archive of his published works and unpublished documents is held at Duke University.[9]


  • Morgenstern, Oskar (1950, 2nd rev. ed. 1963). On the accuracy of economic observations. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. pp. xiv+322.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Morgenstern, Oskar; Granger, Clive W. J. (1970). Predictability of stock market prices. Lexington, Massachusetts: Lexington Books (D. C. Heath and Company). pp. xxiii+303. 
  • Oskar Morgenstern, "Thirteen Critical Points in Contemporary Economic Theory: An Interpretation," Journal of Economic Literature 10, no. 4 (December 1972): 1184
– reprinted in Selected Economic /writings by Oskar Morgenstern, Andrew Schotter, ed. (New York: New York University Press, 1976), p. 288.


  1. ^ Schotter, Andrew (1992). "Oskar Morgenstern's Contribution to the Development of the Theory of Games". In Weintraub, E. Roy. Toward a History of Game Theory. Durham: Duke University Press. pp. 95–112. ISBN 0-8223-1253-0. 
  2. ^ Leonard, Robert (2010). Von Neumann, Morgenstern and the Creation of Game Theory. New York: Cambridge University Press. 
  3. ^ E. Roy Weintraub, Evelyn L. Forget Economists' lives: biography and autobiography in the history of economics p. 234, Duke University Press Books (December 6, 2007)
  4. ^ The New York Times biographical service, vol. 8, p. 276, New York Times & Arno Press, 1977
  5. ^ Jürg Niehans, A history of economic theory: classic contributions, 1720–1980, p. 394, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990
  6. ^ Jörg Bewersdorff, Luck, logic, and white lies: the mathematics of games, p. 368, A.K Peters/CRC Press (November 23, 2004)
  7. ^ Christian Fleck Transatlantische Bereicherungen: zur Erfindung der empirischen Sozialforschung, Suhrkamp, 2007
  8. ^ View/Search Fellows of the ASA, accessed 2016-07-23.
  9. ^ "Oskar Morgenstern Archive". Duke University Library. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 


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