Thomas Piketty during a conference
May 7, 1971 |
|Institution||Paris School of Economics|
|Alma mater||London School of Economics
École normale supérieure
|Influences||Anthony Atkinson, Roy Harrod, Nicholas Kaldor, Franco Modigliani, Luigi Pasinetti, Robert Solow, Robert Barro, Simon Kuznets|
|Awards||Yrjö Jahnsson Award (2013)
Prix du meilleur jeune économiste de France (2002)
|Information at IDEAS/RePEc|
- 1 Biography
- 2 Work
- 3 Political commitment
- 4 Press
- 5 Bibliography
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Youth and education
Piketty was born on May 7, 1971, in Clichy, near Paris, to parents who had taken part in the May 1968 riots. He gained a C-stream Baccalauréat, and after taking mathematics preparatory classes, he entered the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) at the age of 18, where he studied economics.
At the age of 22, Piketty was awarded his PhD for a thesis on the subject of wealth redistribution, which he had written at the ENS and at the London School of Economics, under the supervision of Roger Guesnerie.
After his thesis, Piketty taught economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1993 to 1995. In 1995, he joined the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) as a researcher, and in 2000 he became director of studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS).
From late 2006 to early 2007, he was the first head of the Paris School of Economics, after spending three years creating it. He quickly left, however, due to his support for Ségolène Royal in the French presidential campaign (which had compromised his neutrality obligation), and according to him, following a decision he had taken previously. Piketty has been back teaching at the Paris School of Economics since 2007.
Picketty specializes in economic inequality, with his works in this domain covering both theoretical and normative issues. At first, in the late 1990s, he took a historic and statistical approach.
Study of long term economic inequalities
A research project into high incomes in France led to the publishing of Les hauts revenus en France au XXe (Grasset, 2001) (High incomes in France in the 20th Century), which was based on survey of statistical series covering the whole of the 20th century, built from data from the fiscal services (particularly income tax declarations).
Survey on the evolution of inequalities in France
Piketty's work revealed that earnings inequalities dropped sharply during the 20th century in France, mostly after World War II. This was due, in large part, to a decrease in estate inequalities, while wage inequalities remained stable. According to Piketty, the decrease resulted from the strong growth in the progressivity of income tax after the war, which upset the dynamics of estate accumulation by reducing the surplus money available for saving by the wealthiest.
Piketty opposes the decrease in fiscal burden that has been happening in France since the late 1990s, because he believes it will assist the rebuilding of the earlier large fortunes of the rentier class. Replacing this economically inactive class, which previously dominated the income hierarchy, with working people gaining their income from labor, would lead to a decrease in inequalities and a stimulation of economic growth.
Employing a statistical survey, Piketty also attempted to show that the Laffer effect, which asserts that high marginal taxation rates on top incomes are an incentive for the rich to work less, was probably negligible or small in the case of France.
Piketty subsequently began comparative works on the dynamics of inequalities in other developed countries. He built statistical series based on a similar method to that which he used in his studies of France, working with other economists, particularly Emmanuel Saez. This research led to reports on the evolution of inequalities in the USA, and on economic dynamics in the English-speaking world and the countries of continental Europe.
The surveys found that after undergoing a decrease in economic inequality similar to that in continental Europe, English-speaking countries have, over the past 30 years, been following a process of rebuilding strong inequality.
A critic of the Kuznets curve
The analyses of Piketty can be seen as a critical continuation of the pioneering work of Simon Kuznets in the 1950s. According to Kuznets, the evolution of earnings inequalities was to be shaped, in the long run, as a bell curve (Kuznets curve), growing at the beginning of the industrial revolution, to decrease later, due particularly to the reallocation of labor force from low productivity sectors like agriculture to higher productivity sectors such as industry.
According to Piketty, the tendency observed by Kuznets in the early 1950s is not necessarily a product of deep economical forces (e.g. sectoral spillover, the effects of technological progress). Instead, estates, rather than wage inequalities, decreased, and they did for reasons which are not specifically economical (among which the creation of income tax plays a major role), contingent or reversible. Consequently, nothing guarantees that this decrease will continue. In fact, inequalities have grown sharply in the USA over the last 30 years, returning to their 1930s level.
Besides these surveys, which make up the core of his work, Piketty has published in other areas, often with a connection to economic inequalities.
He took an interest in inequalities in schools, in which he sees a major cause for the persistence of inequalities in wages, and therefore in the economy, and he surveyed the impact of class sizes on success at school.
He has published a short book about the future of the French pension system, in which he promotes the implementation of a Swedish-inspired points-based system.
Piketty has close connections with the French socialist party, and took part in the economic commission of that party from 1995 to 1997.
- Les hauts revenus face aux modifications des taux marginaux supérieurs de l’impôt sur le revenu en France, 1970-1996 (Document de Travail du CEPREMAP, n° 9812, July 1998)
- Inégalités économiques: report to the Conseil d'analyse économique (June 14, 2001) with Tony Atkinson, Michel Godet and Lucile Olier
- Les hauts revenus en France au XXème siècle, Inégalités et redistribution, 1901-1998 (ed. Grasset, September 2001)
- Fiscalité et redistribution sociale dans la France du XXe siècle (October 2001)
- L'économie des inégalités (ed. La Découverte, April 2004)
- Vive la gauche américaine ! : Chroniques 1998-2004 (Éditions de l'Aube, September 2004)
- Pour un nouveau système de retraite : Des comptes individuels de cotisations financés par répartition (Éditions Rue d'Ulm/CEPREMAP, 2008) with Antoine Bozio
- On the Long run evolution of inheritance. France, 1820-2050 (PSE Working Paper, 2010)
- Pour une révolution fiscale (ed. Le Seuil, 2011) with Emmanuel Saez and Camille Landais
- Peut-on sauver l'Europe ? Chroniques 2004-2012 (Les Liens qui Libèrent, 2012)
- Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2014)
- "Thomas Piketty, Curriculum vitae". Ecole d'économie de Paris. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- Patrice TRAPIER - Le Journal du Dimanche (2008-04-06). "Mai 68: La parole aux enfants". leJDD.fr. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- Annie Kahn and Virginie Malingre (2007-02-22). "Les " French economists " font école". Le Monde. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- "Pourquoi Thomas Piketty quitte la direction de l’Ecole d’Economie de Paris". Observatoire Boivigny. 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- Daniel Henninger (2009-03-12). "The Obama Rosetta Stone". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- See in particular his Introduction à la théorie de la redistribution des richesses, Economica, 1994.
- "Les Hauts revenus face aux modifications des taux marginaux supérieurs de l'impôt sur le revenu en France, 1970-1996", Économie et prévision, n° 138-139, 1999.
- T. Piketty et E. Saez, "Income inequality in the United States, 1913-1998", Quarterly journal of economics, vol. 118, n° 1, 2003.
- See particularly, T. Piketty et E. Saez, "The evolution of top incomes : a historical and international perspectives", American Economic Review, vol.96, n° 2, 2006 et T. Atkinston et T. Piketty (ed.), Top incomes over the twentieth century : a contrast between continental European and English-speaking countries, Oxford University Press, 2007.
- See particularly, "The Kuznets' curve, yesterday and tomorrow", in A.Banerjee, R.Benabou et D.Mookerhee (eds.), Understanding poverty, Oxford university press, 2005.
- T. Piketty and M. Valdenaire, L'impact de la taille des classes sur la réussite scolaire dans les écoles, collèges et lycées français - Estimations à partir du panel primaire 1997 et du panel secondaire 1995, Ministère de l'éducation nationale, 2006.
- A. Bozio and T. Piketty, Pour un nouveau système de retraite : des comptes individuels de cotisations financés par répartition, Edition de l'ENS rue d'Ulm, collection du CEPREMAP n°14, 2008.
- "Avant qu’il ne soit trop tard". Nouvel Observateur. 2007-03-03. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers". Foreign Policy. 26 November 2012. Archived from the original on 28 November 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- Personal page of Thomas Piketty (ENS)
- Page on the site of conseil d'analyse économique
- Inégalités et redistribution en France au XXe siècle, conference of the Université de tous les savoirs, 2002. (French)
- Recherches récentes sur la question des inégalités (seminar). Thomas Piketty: Croissance économique et répartition des richesses (March 2, 2011)
- "Thomas Piketty: A plan for a working and democratic eurozone" (translation)