Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Asghar Zaidi

Tony has been an exceptional source of inspiration for all of us who came in contact with him.  I had the privilege of being supervised by him for my DPhil when he was Warden at Nuffield College, Oxford.  I owe great gratitude to him for his personal guidance to me and for many of his writings on poverty in Europe. I will miss him like a father, and will hope to carry his work forward in some small ways.  

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Jane Dickson

Tony was one of the most decent, kindest people I have ever met,
and it was an honour to work for him.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Valentino Larcinese

Tony Atkinson was an almost mythical figure for me during my undergraduate studies in Bocconi, when I first came across his contributions to the theory of optimal taxation and later, when I decided to write my bachelor’s thesis on the effects of progressive taxation on inequality. His JET 1970 paper “On the measurement of inequality” remains one of the most inspiring papers I have ever read. The idea that positive analysis and normative views of inequality are inextricably linked (and that there exists no such thing as value-free measurement of inequality) is also extremely relevant for current economic and political debate. A few years after my encounters with his papers I was lucky enough to meet Tony in person and to appreciate in several occasions what an unassuming and generous person he was.    

Christopher Pissarides

Tony Atkinson was a true academic with one big ambition: to understand why there is poverty and inequality in a rich world and what does it take to correct them both? His work in these areas of research spanned advanced theory and practical policy advice. Had more of his policy advice being followed the world would have been a happier place to live in today. But his legacy lives on, through his many writings that are still widely read and especially through the many younger academics that he has influenced through his teachings and research. I was fortunate enough to be one of those who came across the person and his work as a graduate student, at the University of Essex and then at the London School of Economics. I first came across him when at a very young age he came to Essex as professor, and greeted as the young star who was going to transform Essex (and he did, in his relatively short tenure there), subsequently as the author that I read repeatedly when doing my research on unemployment – a big cause of poverty and inequality – and later as my colleague at LSE, where I learned from him how to approach university life. Tony the theorist was impressive: the way he constructed his inequality index from seemingly unrelated theory (attitudes to risk) impressed me enormously and made me look beyond the narrow confines of labour economics for a solution to the unemployment problem. But more impressive was his view that in economics no theory is worth doing if it is not addressed to a problem that is blighting our world. The intermarriage of theory and evidence were present in his work from the very beginnings to his more recent books; from taking abstract growth theory and calculating with numbers how long it takes an economy to reach growth equilibrium (very long!) to calculating what tax rates are needed to tackle poverty and inequality. The world will miss Tony but thankfully his legacy will live on.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

John Van Reenen

Tony was a towering figure and has inspired generations of economists

Howard Glennerster

Tony made an unmatched contribution to the economics of public policy, income distribution and social security but also to wider social policy.

It was his idea to found two key programmes of work within STICERD, one on taxation and income distribution, (TIDI), the other on the economics of the welfare state, which attracted to STICERD two groups of outstanding academics. They built bridges between two disciplines that had once been shy, if not contemptuous, of one another. That now seems absurd but it was Tony's genius to cut through such idiocy. He nurtured the open challenging atmosphere that makes STICERD such a great place in which to work. It was an honour to try to hand that on to later generations.  We have lost not just a great man but a warm and generous one too.

Jane Waldfogel

Like others, I will always recall Tony’s kindness and humility. When I was researching Britain’s war on poverty, one persistent puzzle was where the goal of ending child poverty had come from. I asked Tony one day and with his usual modesty he said it might have been him and kindly gave me his 1998 IPPR paper. That paper was the first to suggest the poverty reduction targets which of course helped set in motion the anti-poverty reforms of the Blair and Brown governments. That is just one example of his impact on policy which I am sure will be lasting. I particularly admire his last book -- Inequality: What can be done– which I have used in teaching in the US and which I hope will continue to have an influence on policy there (where it is surely much needed).