British-American economist Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom of Finland on Monday won the Nobel Economics Prize for their work on contract theory, the jury said.

"This year's laureates have developed contract theory, a comprehensive framework for analysing many diverse issues in contractual design, like performance-based pay for top executives, deductibles and co-pays in insurance, and the privatisation of public-sector activities," it said.

"The new theoretical tools created by Hart and Holmstrom are valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design."

Their groundbreaking work has laid "an intellectual foundation" for designing policies and institutions in many areas, from bankruptcy legislation to political constitutions.

Hart, born in 1948, is an economics professor at Harvard University in the United States, while Holmstrom is a professor of economics and management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The pair will share the eight million kronor (826,000 euros, $924,000) prize.

Last year, the award went to US-British researcher Angus Deaton for his groundbreaking work on poverty.

The economics prize is unique among the Nobel awards in that it was created by the Swedish central bank in 1968 -- the others were all set up through the 1895 will of Swedish inventor and philanthropist Alfred Nobel.

The economics prize is the fifth of the six Nobel prizes to be announced this year.