Thomas Piketty

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Thomas Piketty
Thomas Piketty 2015.jpg
Piketty in 2015
Born (1971-05-07) 7 May 1971 (age 44)
Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, France
Nationality France
Institutions London School of Economics
Paris School of Economics
EHESS
MIT
Field Public economics
Alma mater London School of Economics
École Normale Supérieure
Awards Medalla Rectoral, Universidad de Chile (2015)
Yrjö Jahnsson Award (2013)
Prix du meilleur jeune économiste de France (2002)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Thomas Piketty (French: [tɔˈma pikɛˈti]; born on 7 May 1971) is a French economist who works on wealth and income inequality. He is professor (directeur d'études) at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), professor at the Paris School of Economics and Centennial professor at the London School of Economics.[1][2]

He is the author of the best-selling book Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2013),[3] which emphasises the themes of his work on wealth concentrations and distribution over the past 250 years. The book argues that the rate of capital return in developed countries is persistently greater than the rate of economic growth, and that this will cause wealth inequality to increase in the future. He considers that to be a problem, and to address it, he proposes redistribution through a progressive global tax on wealth.[4][5]

Biography[edit]

Piketty was born on 7 May 1971, in the Parisian suburb of Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine. His parents had been involved with a Trotskyite group and the May 1968 protests in Paris, but they had moved away from this political position before Piketty was born, and a visit to the Soviet Union in 1991 was enough to make him a firm "believe[r] in capitalism, private property, the market".[6]

Piketty gained a C-stream (scientific) Baccalauréat, and after taking scientific preparatory classes, he entered the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) at the age of 18, where he studied mathematics and economics.[7] At the age of 22, Piketty was awarded his PhD for a thesis on wealth redistribution, which he wrote at the EHESS and the London School of Economics under Roger Guesnerie[8] and winning the French Economics Association's award for the best thesis of the year.[9]

After earning his PhD, Piketty taught from 1993 to 1995 as an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1995, he joined the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) as a researcher, and in 2000 he became professor (directeur d'études) at EHESS.[7]

Piketty won the 2002 prize for the best young economist in France, and according to a list dated 11 November 2003, he is a member of the scientific orientation board of the association À gauche, en Europe (fr), founded by Michel Rocard and Dominique Strauss-Kahn.[10]

In 2006, Piketty became the first head of the Paris School of Economics, which he helped set up.[11] He left after a few months to serve as an economic advisor to Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal during the French presidential campaign.[12][13] Piketty resumed teaching at the EHESS and Paris School of Economics in 2007.[14]

He was for a time the partner of the socialist politician Aurélie Filippetti who, in 2009, made an official complaint against Piketty for domestic violence;[15] she subsequently dropped the charges, apparently after Piketty apologised to her.[16][17]

He is a columnist for the French newspaper Libération, and occasionally writes op-eds for Le Monde.

In April 2012, Piketty co-authored along with 42 colleagues an open letter in support of then-PS candidate[citation needed] for the French presidency François Hollande.[18] Hollande won the contest against the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in May of that year. Piketty was unimpressed by Hollande's tenure, later describing him as "hopeless"."Lunch with the FT"/>

In 2013, Piketty won the biennial Yrjö Jahnsson Award, for the economist under age 45 who has "made a contribution in theoretical and applied research that is significant to the study of economics in Europe."[19]

In January 2015, he rejected the French Legion of Honour order, stating that he refused the nomination because he did not think it was the government's role to decide who is honourable.[20][21]

Research[edit]

Piketty specializes in economic inequality, taking a historic and statistical approach.[22][23] His work looks at the rate of capital accumulation in relation to economic growth over a two hundred year spread from the nineteenth century to the present. His novel use of tax records enabled him to gather data on the very top economic elite, who had previously been understudied, and to ascertain their rate of accumulation of wealth and how this compared to the rest of society and economy. His most recent book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, relies on economic data going back 250 years to show that an ever-rising concentration of wealth is not self-correcting. To address this problem, he proposes redistribution through a progressive global tax on wealth.[4][24]

Study of long-term economic inequalities[edit]

A research project on high incomes in France led to the book Les hauts revenus en France au XXe (High incomes in France in the 20th Century, Grasset, 2001), which was based on a survey of statistical series covering the whole of the 20th century, built from data from the fiscal services (particularly income tax declarations). He extended this analysis in his immensely popular book Le Capital au XXIe siècle (Capital in the Twenty-First Century). A study by Emmanuel Saez and Piketty showed that the top 10 percent of earners took more than half of the country’s total income in 2012, the highest level recorded since the government began collecting the relevant data a century ago.[25][26][27]

Survey on the evolution of inequalities in France[edit]

Piketty's work shows that differences in earnings dropped sharply during the 20th century in France, mostly after World War II. He argues that this was due to a decrease in estate inequalities, while wage inequalities remained stable. The shrinking inequality during this period, Piketty says, resulted from a highly progressive income tax after the war, which upset the dynamics of estate accumulation by reducing the surplus money available for saving by the wealthiest.[citation needed]

The normative conclusion Piketty draws is that a tax cut and thus a decrease in the financial contribution to society of the wealthy that has been happening in France since the late 1990s will assist in the rebuilding of the earlier large fortunes of the rentier class. This trend will lead to the rise of what he calls patrimonial capitalism, in which a few families control most of the wealth.[8]

Through a statistical survey, Piketty also showed that the Laffer effect, which claims that high marginal tax rates on top incomes are an incentive for the rich to work less, was probably negligible in the case of France.[28]

Comparative work[edit]

Piketty has done comparative work on inequality in other developed countries. In collaboration with other economists, particularly Emmanuel Saez, he built a statistical series based on a similar method used in his studies of France. This research led to reports on the evolution of inequalities in the US,[29] and on economic dynamics in the English-speaking world and continental Europe.[30] Saez won the prestigious John Bates Clark prize for this work.

The surveys found that following the Second World War, after initially undergoing a decrease in economic inequality similar to that in continental Europe, English-speaking countries have, over the past thirty years, experienced increasing inequalities.

A critic of the Kuznets curve[edit]

Piketty's work has been discussed as a critical continuation of the pioneering work of Simon Kuznets in the 1950s.[31] According to Kuznets, the long-term evolution of earnings inequalities was shaped as a curve (Kuznets curve). Growth started at the beginning of the industrial revolution, and slackened off later due to the reallocation of the labor force from low productivity sectors like agriculture to higher productivity sectors like industry.

According to Piketty, the tendency observed by Kuznets in the early 1950s is not necessarily a product of deep economic forces (e.g. sectoral spillover or the effects of technological progress). Instead, estate values, rather than wage inequalities, decreased, and they did so for reasons that were not specifically economic (for example, the creation of income tax). Consequently, the decrease would not necessarily continue, and in fact, inequalities have grown sharply in the United States over the last thirty years, returning to their 1930s level.

Other work[edit]

Besides these surveys, which make up the core of his work, Piketty has published in other areas, often with a connection to economic inequalities. His work on schools, for example, postulates that disparities among different schools, especially class sizes, is a cause for the persistence of inequalities in wages and the economy.[32] He has also published proposals for changes in the French pension system and the French tax system.[33][34] Speaking with Labour leaders in the United Kingdom, he stated that tax rates could be raised above 50% for earnings over one million pounds without it impacting the economy.[35]

Capital in the Twenty-First Century[edit]

Capital in the Twenty-First Century, published in 2014, focuses on wealth and income inequality in Europe and the US since the 18th century. The book's central thesis is that inequality is not an accident but rather a feature of capitalism that can be reversed only through state intervention.[36] The book thus argues that unless capitalism is reformed, the very democratic order will be threatened.[36] The book reached number one on The New York Times bestselling hardcover nonfiction list dated 18 May 2014.[37] Piketty offered a "possible remedy: a global tax on wealth."[38]


Bibliography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Piketty, Thomas. "CV". Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "Thomas Piketty joins LSE as Centennial Professor". London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "Paris School of Economics". Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Krugman, Paul (8 May 2014). "Why We're in a New Gilded Age". The New York Review of Books. 
  5. ^ Tanenhaus, Sam (25 April 2014). "Hey, Big Thinker: Thomas Piketty, the Economist Behind ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ Is the Latest Overnight Intellectual Sensation". New York Times. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Chassany, Anne-Sylvaine (26 June 2015). "Lunch with the FT: Thomas Piketty". ft.com. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Curriculum vitae". pse.ens.fr. Retrieved 11 January 2014. 
  8. ^ a b John Cassidy, "Forces of Divergence", The New Yorker, 31 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Thomas Piketty, a Not-So-Radical French Thinker". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  10. ^ "Thomas Piketty / France Inter". Franceinter.fr. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Annie Kahn and Virginie Malingre (22 February 2007). "Les " French economists " font école". Le Monde. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  12. ^ "Pourquoi Thomas Piketty quitte la direction de l'École d'économie de Paris". Observatoire Boivigny. 3 March 2007. 
  13. ^ "Avant qu'il ne soit trop tard". Nouvel Observateur. 3 March 2007. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  14. ^ "Thomas Piketty". Paris School of Economics. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  15. ^ 'Plainte Filippetti / Piketty : domaine public ?', Arrêts sur images du 3 mars 2009 [1]
  16. ^ "Violences conjugales : classement sans suite de l'enquête visant Thomas Piketty après une plainte d'Aurélie Filippetti", Le Parisien (24 September 2009).
  17. ^ « Violences conjugales: classement sans suite de l'enquête visant Thomas Piketty après une plainte d'Aurélie Filippetti » [2]; David Chazan (4 May 2014). "France's 'rock star' economist Thomas Piketty 'beat former lover'". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  18. ^ "" Nous, économistes, soutenons François Hollande " 17 Apr 2012". lemonde.fr. 17 April 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  19. ^ "Yrjö Jahnsson Award in Economics". Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation. 
  20. ^ "Piketty rejects Légion d'Honneur award". Financial Times. 
  21. ^ "BBC News – France economist Thomas Piketty rejects Legion D'Honneur". BBC News. 
  22. ^ Daniel Henninger (12 March 2009). "The Obama Rosetta Stone". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  23. ^ See in particular his Introduction à la théorie de la redistribution des richesses, Economica, 1994.
  24. ^ An In-depth review by Robert Boyer, leader of the French Régulation school in Régulation Review
  25. ^ http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/10/the-rich-get-richer-through-the-recovery/?_r=0
  26. ^ http://nypost.com/2014/01/27/the-presidents-inequality-absurdities/
  27. ^ http://eml.berkeley.edu//~saez/saez-UStopincomes-2012.pdf
  28. ^ "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.
  29. ^ Piketty, T.; Saez, E. (2003). "Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998" (PDF). The Quarterly Journal of Economics 118: 1. doi:10.1162/00335530360535135.  edit
  30. ^ See particularly, Piketty, T.; Saez, E. (2006). "The Evolution of Top Incomes: A Historical and International Perspective". American Economic Review 96 (2): 200–205. doi:10.1257/000282806777212116. JSTOR 30034642.  And Atkinston, T.; Piketty, T., eds. (2007). Top incomes over the twentieth century : a contrast between continental European and English-speaking countries. Oxford University Press. 
  31. ^ "The Kuznets' curve, yesterday and tomorrow", in A. Banerjee, R. Benabou et D. Mookerhee (eds.), Understanding poverty, Oxford university press, 2005.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ Camille Landais, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, Pour une révolution fiscale, ed. Le Seuil, 2011
  35. ^ Andrew Sparrow, Thomas Piketty interviewed by Stewart Wood: Politics live blog, The Guardian, 16 June 2014.
  36. ^ a b Ryan Cooper (25 March 2014). "Why everyone is talking about Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century". The Week. 
  37. ^ "Best Sellers". Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  38. ^ "Mind the Gap: Anthony Atkinson, the godfather of inequality research, on a growing problem", The Economist, 6 June 2015, retrieved 7 June 2015 

External links[edit]

Interviews[edit]