Elinor Ostrom is the first woman to win Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences since it was founded in 1968. She is also the fifth woman to win a Nobel award this year - a record for the prestigious honors.
It was also an exceptionally strong year for the United States, with 11 American citizens - some of them with dual nationality - among the 13 Nobel winners, including President Barack Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
It was also reported, the research of Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson shows that economic analysis can shed light on most forms of social organisation," the jury said.
Ostrom won half the 10-million-kronor (1.42-million-dollar, 980,000-euro) prize "for her analysis of economic governance" especially relating to the management of common property or property under common control, such as natural resources.
Her work challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatised, the jury said.
A professor at Indiana University whose name has circulated as a possible winner in recent years, Ostrom told Swedish television her first reaction was "great surprise and appreciation," and said she was "in shock" over being the first woman to clinch the honour.
Ms Ostrom, also in her 70s, is the Arthur F Bentley Professor of Political Science at Indiana University Bloomington.