Tony Atkinson (Anthony Barnes Atkinson)

Tony Atkinson

Tony Atkinson attended Cranbrook School. After considering studying mathematics, he graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1966 with a first-class degree before spending time at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He cited his interest in inequality as beginning from volunteering in a German hospital in the 1960s. He served as Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford, 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. He also edited the Journal of Public Economics. Tony Atkinson’s work was predominantly on income distributions. There is an inequality measure named after him: the Atkinson index. In a joint article with Joseph Stiglitz, he laid one of the cornerstones for the theory of optimal taxation. In his 2015 publication Inequality: What Can Be Done?, he “called for robust taxation of the rich whom he reckons have got off easily over the last generation.” He recommended government intervention in markets such as employment guarantees and wage controls to influence the redistribution of economic rewards. 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 onwards, 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. Tony Atkinson examined how the wealthy disproportionately influence public policy and influence governments to implement policies that protect wealth. He 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. He also advocated the introduction of a basic income. Tony Atkinson was married to Judith Mandeville, whom he met at Cambridge. The couple had three children. Atkinson died on 1 January 2017 from multiple myeloma in Oxford, England, aged 72.


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  • September, 04, 1944
  • United Kingdom
  • Caerleon, Wales


  • January, 01, 2017
  • United Kingdom
  • Oxford, England

Cause of Death

  • multiple myeloma

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