Ronald Harry Coase was born on December 29, 1910, in Willesden, a suburb in London. His father was employed as a telegraphist in the Post Office, so was his mother, who decided to stop working after her marriage. Both his parents were extremely sportive, playing football, cricket and tennis so naturally they encouraged their sons to get more involved in sports. Ronald, however, had no more interest in sports than any usual child, he found his deepest comforts in books, and was a regular visitor of the local public library. He became a master of chess at a very early age, and showed much intellect for the game.
As a child, Ronald Coase suffered from a weakness in his legs, due to which, he had to wear irons on his legs. Therefore, he also had to attend a school for physical defectives run by the local council. At the age of 12, he took the secondary school scholarship examination and was awarded a scholarship to the Kilburn Grammar School. In 1927, he passed his examination, with distinction in history and chemistry. Later, he enrolled in the University of London for his intermediate examination. Coase was perplexed about his academic choices, he initially wanted to pursue history but due to his lack of knowledge in Latin he dropped that idea and contemplated getting a science degree, which he also dropped upon discovering his dislike for Mathematics. Finally he settled for Commerce, and upon clearing his intermediate examinations, in 1929, Coase got himself enrolled in the London School of Economics to pursue an undergraduate degree in Commerce.
He received his bachelor’s degree in 1932, and later in 1951, earned a D.Sc. in economics from the University of London. He began his academic career by teaching at the London School of Economics, and later he went on teach at various prestigious institutions, including the University of Buffalo, the Dundee School of Economics and Commerce, the University of Liverpool, the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago Law School. In 1982, he was offered the post of professor emeritus and senior fellow in law and economics at the University of Chicago Law School and also, he served as an editor of the Journal of Law and Economics from 1964–82. In 1996, he laid the foundation of the International Society for New Institutional Economics and presided over it till 1997. In 2000, he founded The Ronald Coase Institute, which is devoted to promote the study of new institutional economics, he served there as a research advisor as well.
Coase has won worldwide recognition for his works of deducing the effects of transaction costs and property rights, on businesses and society. In 1960, he published his most acclaimed paper, “The Problem of Social Cost”, where he put forward his solution to deal with transaction and information costs, and its legal implications. His solution provided great insight to economists and legal scholars alike, and became widely known as the “Coase Theorem”. Other publications by Coase, which have enlightened the study of economics include “The Nature of the Firm” (1937), “The Firm, the Market, and the Law” (1988); and “How China Became Capitalist” (2012; with Ning Wang) among others.
In 1991, Ronald Coase was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on identifying and simplifying the concepts of transactions costs and property rights, and its impact on businesses, the law and the functioning of the economy. He was among the pioneering economists who gave birth to the field of new institutional economics, and helped simplify the political, legal and social impacts of economic activity in order to fully understand the role played by legal, political and private institutions in fostering economic growth.