Economist. Born in Minnigaff (Dumfries and Galloway) the son of a bank clerk, Mirrlees was brought up in Newton Stewart and then Port William. He was educated at the Douglas Ewart High School in Newton Stewart and followed by the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge. Appointed Assistant Lecturer in Economics in Cambridge (1963), Mirrlees was given a Chair in Economics at Oxford (1968-95) and then returned to Cambridge as Professor of Political Economy (1995). He has held visiting Professorships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Berkeley and Yale.
Mirrlees has published widely on the optimal taxation of income and welfare economics. He was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1996 for his work which has become a principal constituent of the modern analysis of complex information and incentive problems in economics. Widely honoured, Mirrlees was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Edinburgh (1997), knighted in the same year, and elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1998.