Date
24 September 2017
Thomas Piketty is seen in November at a hotel in Beijing where he gave a lecture on his bestselling book. Photo: AFP
Thomas Piketty is seen in November at a hotel in Beijing where he gave a lecture on his bestselling book. Photo: AFP

Inequality economist Piketty rejects highest French honor

Economist Thomas Piketty has joined Nobel laureates Jean-Paul Sartre (literature) and Marie Curie (chemistry, physics) in turning down France’s most prestigious award, the Legion d’Honneur, CNN reported.

“I don’t think it’s up to a government to say who is honorable,” Piketty told AFP.

Piketty is famous for his research on income inequality, which he argues is worsening.

His 700-page book Capital in the 21st Century was an international bestseller last year. 

“They would do better to focus on reviving growth in France and Europe,” Piketty, a professor at the Paris School of Economics, said when he declined the award. Europe is on the verge of a recession.

One of Piketty’s key findings is that wealth is being passed down from generation to generation, shutting out those born without the advantage of rich parents.

He argues the United States and other countries need more progressive tax systems.

Piketty will face some of his critics in a debate this weekend at the American Economic Association’s annual meeting.

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