Top incomes, wealth and inheritance: special issue in homage to Tony Atkinson
Gonzalez Alvaredo, Facundo; García Peñalosa, Cecilia; Top incomes, wealth and inheritance: special issue in homage to Tony Atkinson; Springer; Journal of Economic Inequality; 16; 2; 6-2018; 131-136
Gonzalez Alvaredo, Facundo
García Peñalosa, Cecilia
In the second of the three issues that the Journal of Economic Inequality is publishing in honour of Sir Anthony Barnes “Tony” Atkinson, we turn to what has become one of the most dynamic areas of research in recent years, the evolution of top incomes and the concentration of wealth. Tony’s contributions were path-breaking in the field of inequality studies, where he pioneered at a time in which the profession was paying little attention to applied distributional issues. His 1978 book with Alan Harrison, Distribution of Personal Wealth in Britain, is probably the finest example of his approach: it combines the data collection, the critical and cautious production of series, the historical perspective, and the theoretical analysis. The book, spanning data from the 1910s to the 1970s, documented a massive reduction in wealth inequality over three generations. Falling wealth and income inequality subsequently led, to some extent, to complacency about the distributional implications of economic prosperity, but alarm bells started ringing in the 1990s when Tony and other authors “brought income distribution in from the cold” (Atkinson 1997). In this context of renewed interest in the dynamics of distributional variables, Tony became a driving force in the efforts to understand what has been happening at the top of the distribution.