Tony Atkinson died January 1, 2017. He was my PhD supervisor when I was at LSE in the 1980s, and we kept in touch occasionally afterwards. What follows are some personal reflections on his life and his work.
In his youth, Tony hitchhiked around Europe. In his later years, he would give lifts to Oxford students thumbing their way into town - and delight in the surprise of those who discovered they were being chauffeured by no less a personage than Sir Anthony Barnes Atkinson, warden of Nuffield College.
Hitchhiking is a fitting metaphor for Tony's attitude to life. It captures his commitment to the practical achievement of a just society. Some people have no access to transport. Others have unused room in their vehicles. Behind the elegant formality of his work on taxation and inequality is a simple idea: if those who have plenty share with those who have less, everyone can get where they want to go.