The Malinvaud prize awarded to Pierre Boyer, professor at Ecole Polytechnique


Pierre Boyer, professor at École polytechnique, received on June 21, 2017 the Malinvaud Prize awarded by the French Association of Economics (AFSE) for its article “Efficiency, welfare and political competition”, published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

For the second consecutive year, the Malinvaud Prize of the French Association of Economics was awarded to a professor at École polytechnique. This prize is awarded every year since 2010 to a young economist under 40, author of the best scientific article published in a reference journal. In 2016, Isabelle Méjean, Associate Professor at École Polytechnique, was awarded for her article “Firms, Destinations and Aggregate Fluctuations” published in Econometrica. This year, Pierre Boyer is distinguished for his work on the political determinants of income tax reforms.

In his article co-written with Felix Bierbraueur (University of Cologne), Pierre Boyer seeks to understand how the tax rates of the income tax are determined. “There are big differences between the theory developed in public economics, and what we observe in the real world,” says the professor. According to this theory, the tax scale would be chosen by a benevolent planner, that is to say, an abstract entity allocating social weights to different categories of the population. And according to this entity, more social weight would be allocated to low-income populations. “These social weights we are interested in play a key role in setting the balance between fairness and efficiency in the tax scheme of income tax,” says Pierre Boyer. Thus, to explain these differences between theory and reality, the economist proposes to determine the social weight no longer from this theoretical hypothesis, but, this time, from electoral competition by appealing to the political economy .

In their article, and for the first time in this literature, the two economists have combined notions from public economy with political economy. “We managed to make the connection between these two branches thanks to the results of the mathematician Emile Borel, a polytechnician who developed a game of military strategy, says the professor. This game inspired Roger Myerson, winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Economics, who introduced him to the study of political economy. From this game, and making an analogy with politics, the young economist and his co-author managed to make the link between these two subfields of economics. Moreover, their article opens the way to practical applications that should ultimately help to better understand the determinants of income tax changes since its creation in 1914 in France, and to explain its changes over years.

“This award is a great encouragement for the pursuit of my research,” says Pierre Boyer who wishes to express his gratitude to the members of the jury and the president, Roger Guesnerie, for having selected his article.

About Pierre Boyer

Pierre Boyer is currently assistant professor at École polytechnique and CREST. He is also a research associate at the CESifo Institute in Munich and at the Research Center on the Political Economy of Reforms at the University of Mannheim in Germany. He holds a doctorate in economics from the Toulouse School of Economics and the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. His research has been rewarded with the thesis prize of the French Association of Economics, the Economics Prize of the Academy of Sciences, Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres of Toulouse, and the Public Economics Prize of the CESifo Institute of Munich (Germany).