William Vickrey

DEFINITION of 'William Vickrey'

A Canadian economist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1996, along with James Mirrlees, for his work on information asymmetry. Vickrey used principles of game theory to describe the functioning of auctions. He also helped to develop a model of congestion pricing that has been implemented in London: the system charges drivers a higher fee to use roads during times of peak demand, with the aim of reducing traffic congestion. Another major focus of his research was taxation. During World War II, he helped to create a new estate tax for Puerto Rico, and he worked on a revision of Japan's tax system.

BREAKING DOWN 'William Vickrey'

Born in 1914 in British Columbia, Vickrey earned his PhD from Columbia University. He taught at Columbia for decades and also worked for the National Resources Planning Board and the U.S. Treasury's Division of Tax Research. In addition, he was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and president of the American Economic Association. Vickrey died in 1996, just three days after learning of his Nobel Prize.

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