Tony Atkinson

Anthony Barnes Atkinson
Born (1944-09-04) 4 September 1944
United Kingdom
Nationality British
Institution Nuffield College, Oxford
London School of Economics
Field Economics of income distribution, poverty, micro-economics
School or
Neo-Keynesian economics
Alma mater Cambridge University
Influences James Meade
Influenced Thomas Piketty
Emmanuel Saez
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Sir Anthony Barnes "Tony" Atkinson[1] FBA CBE (born 4 September 1944), is a British economist and has been a Senior Research Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford since 2005 and Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics.[2] A student of James Meade, Atkinson virtually single-handedly established the modern British field of inequality and poverty studies. He has worked on inequality and poverty for over four decades.[3]

Education and career

Atkinson attended Cranbrook School.[4]

He graduated from Cambridge University in 1966 with a first-class degree. The only other people who got a first-class degree in economics at the same time were Vince Cable and Geoff Hurd.

He served as Warden of Nuffield College from 1994 to 2005. Before that he held positions at the University of Cambridge, University College London, the London School of Economics, the University of Essex and the University of Oxford.[5]


Atkinson's work is predominantly on income distributions. There is an inequality measure named after him: the Atkinson index.[6] In a joint article with Joseph Stiglitz, he laid one of the cornerstones for the theory of Optimal Taxation.[7] In his 2015 publication entitled Inequality: What Can Be Done?, he "called for robust taxation of the rich whom he reckons have got off easily over the last generation."[3][8] He recommends government intervention in markets such as employment guarantees and wage controls to influence the redistribution of economic rewards.[3] He traced the history of inequality coining the phrase the "Inequality Turn" to describe the period when household inequality began to rise around 1980. From the 1980s on men and women "tended to marry those who earned like themselves" with rich women marrying rich men. As more women joined the workforce inequality increased.[3] Sir Anthony also examined how the wealthy disproportionately influence public policy and influence governments to implement policies that protect wealth.[3] Sir Anthony presented a set of policies regarding technology, employment, social security, the sharing of capital, and taxation that could shift the inequality in income distribution in developed countries.[9] He also advocates the introduction of a basic income.[10]


Atkinson, who has been working on inequality and poverty for more than four decades, was a mentor to Thomas Piketty (author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century); they worked together on building an historical database on top incomes.[3]

Membership and honours

He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1984, a Fellow of the Econometric Society in 1974, Honorary Member of the American Economic Association in 1985 and Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994.[11] He was President of the Econometric Society in 1988. He was knighted in 2000 and made a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur in 2001. He was the first person to be honoured with the A.SK Social Science Award by the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB Social Science Center in Berlin) in 2007.[12]

Selected bibliography


Chapters in books

Journal articles

See also


  1. "Atkinson, A. B. (Anthony Barnes), 1944–". Library of Congress. Retrieved 17 July 2014. CIP t.p. (A.B. Atkinson, London School of Economics) data sheet (b. 09-04-44)
  2. "Tony Atkinson – Biography". Tony Atkinson – personal website. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Mind the Gap: Anthony Atkinson, the godfather of inequality research, on a growing problem", The Economist, 6 June 2015, retrieved 7 June 2015
  4. "Cranbrook School – Alumni". Cranbrook School. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  5. ATKINSON, Sir Anthony Barnes, (Sir Tony), Who's Who 2015, A & C Black, 2015; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014
  6. Atkinson, AB (1970) On the measurement of inequality. Journal of Economic Theory, 2 (3), pp. 244–263, doi:10.1016/0022-0531(70)90039-6
  7. Atkinson, A. B., and J. E. Stiglitz (1976), The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation, Journal of Public Economics, 6 (1-2): 55-75, doi:10.1016/0047-2727(76)90041-4
  8. Atkinson, Anthony B. (2014). Inequality: What Can Be Done?. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674504769.
  9. "Review of Inequality: What Can Be Done?", Harvard University Press, 2015, retrieved 7 June 2015
  10. Atkinson, Anthony B. (2011) Income: Ethics, Statistics and Economics”, überarbeitete Version einer Rede die auf dem Workshop „Basic Income and Income Redistribution” an der Universität Luxembourg gehalten wurde, April 2011.
  11. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  12. "Curriculum Vitae – Sir Tony Atkinson". Nuffield College, Oxford. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
Educational offices
Preceded by
Kaushik Basu
President of the Human Development and Capability Association
September 2012 – September 2014
Succeeded by
Henry S. Richardson
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