Economist Tony Atkinson, who influenced India studies, dies at 72


Tony Atkinson, a professor of Economics at the University of Oxford whose work in income distribution influenced studies of poverty and inequality in India, died on January 1 at the age of 72.

Sabina Alkire, director of Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, told Hindustan Times on Thursday: “The relevance of his work for India cannot be overstated.”

“As is so well known, his work led the fields of inequality, income distribution, and poverty for many decades, bringing clarity and practical insight to pressing social issues.”

Atkinson was called “the godfather of modern scholarship on the distribution of income and wealth” by fellow economist Thomas Piketty.

The Atkinson index is named after him as a useful measure in determining which end of the distribution contributed most to the observed inequality, the university said.

Andrew Dilnot of Nuffield College, Oxford, said he would be remembered for his “belief that things could be done to improve the world”.

Atkinson published one co-authored article in the Indian Journal of Human Development on data for policy.

“What struck many was that such tremendous work was advanced in a quiet gracious manner, with impeccable integrity and good judgement. We have lost a giant heart and mind, and he will be sorely missed,” Alkire added.

Atkinson was tipped as a front-runner for a Nobel Prize for Economics on several occasions. He was knighted in 2001 for services to economics and was also awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.

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