French economist Jean Tirole has won the 2014 economics Nobel Prize for his analysis of market power and regulation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said today. 

"Jean Tirole is one of the most influential economists of our time," the award-giving body said. 

"Most of all he has clarified how to understand and regulate industries with a few powerful firms," it added. 

The economics prize, officially called the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was established in 1968. It was not part of the original group of awards set out in dynamite tycoon Nobel's 1895 will.

Economists from the US have dominated the prize with only a few winners coming from other parts of the world since 1994. 

While economists are rarely household names, previous winners include well-known figures such as Paul Krugman, Milton Friedman, Friedrich August von Hayek and Joseph Stiglitz.

Born in the town of Troyes in 1953, Tirole studied engineering and mathematics in Paris and went on to complete a PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology near Boston, where he was a professor for eight years. 

He has been influential in the theoretical and practical application of game theory - the study of strategic decision making. Tirole has written 11 books, including on the theory of industrial organisation. 

His research has allowed for a better understanding of business strategies and competition law and has seen him take on research in psychology, finance, organisational theory and reform of the labour market. 

While little known outside his field, Tirole has racked up an impressive body of work that includes some 200 articles in economics and finance and has given scores of distinguished lectures.

He holds some seven honorary doctorates from universities around the world. 

Aside from a multitude of academic distinctions, Tirole in 2007 won the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Gold Medal, awarded to those who have made an exceptional contribution to the innovation and influence of French research.

He also in 1993 won the Yrjo Jahnsson prize of the European Economic Association, for economists who have made a significant contribution in theoretical and applied research.

In 2010, Tirole won two prizes, the Claude Levi-Strauss Prize for his significant contributions to the social sciences and the CME Group's Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Prize in Innovation Quantitative Applications.