Sir Anthony Barnes Atkinson, FBA, CBE 1944–2017

2nd January 2017 in News and Events, People

Sir Anthony Atkinson

The College is saddened to announce the death of Fellow and alumnus Sir Anthony Barnes Atkinson, FBA, CBE (U63) on 1 January 2017, aged 73. .

Tony Atkinson was an undergraduate of the College from 1963–66, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Cambridge and Professorial Fellow of Churchill College from 1992–94, and was elected an Honorary Fellow in 2015. He was taught by Frank Hahn and much influenced by James Meade (then Professor of Political Economy), whose serious approach to what economists could say about social justice Tony shared. Tony was infectiously enthusiastic and supportive, immensely important in economics, a field that is often characterised by competiveness and criticism. He will be sorely missed.

Tony was an immensely distinguished economist (there is hardly an economics position or honour that he has not received and/or filled with distinction). He was concerned with income and wealth distribution, as well as poverty, his entire professional life and his 23 books started with Unequal Shares – Wealth in Britain (1971), continuing right up to Inequality — What can be done? published in 2015. His name lives on in the Atkinson index — an inequality measure. He was very influential in policy debates and in delivering important reports to governments, serving on the Royal Commission on the Distribution of Income and Wealth, the Pension Law Review Committee and many others here and abroad. His 1995 Lindahl Lectures on Public Economics in Action and his 1999 Munich Lectures on The Economic Consequences of Rolling Back the Welfare State have spoken to, and considerably influenced, academic research and policy debates.

He was born on 4 September 1944, was elected a Fellow at St Johns at the age of 23, only one year after graduating in Economics, and then elected to a professorship at Essex in 1971–76. He moved to become Professor of Political Economy at University College, London, 1976–79 and then to the Tooke Chair of Economic Science and Statistics at the London School of Economics, 1980–92, before returning to Cambridge to hold the senior chair as Professor of Political Economy and Fellow of Churchill College, 1992–94. He left after only a brief stay to become Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford until 2005. After that, while remaining a fellow of Nuffield College, he held a variety of Professorships — in Paris, Harvard, the LSE and Oxford.

He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1984 and was Vice President from 1988–90. He was President of the Econometric Society, 1988 (the most prestigious and selective academic economics society in the world), President of the European Economic Association, 1989, President of the International Economic Association, 1989-92 and President of the Royal Economic Society, 1995–1998, as well as of various other international societies. He was knighted in 2000 and made a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2001, and was given honorary degrees by at least 11 universities. 

— Professor David Newbery 

Financial Times obituary 

New York Times obituary