Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman wins prestigious Clark Medal

Article written by Ed Lempinen, Berkeley News

Gabriel Zucman, a UC Berkeley economist who has helped propel globally influential research on tax avoidance and economic inequality, was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal by the American Economic Association (AEA).

The medal, given annually to an economist under the age of 40, is second in prestige only to the Nobel Prize in economics, and several past winners have gone on to win the Nobel. In announcing the award , the AEA cited Zucman’s innovative research and wide-ranging influence, accomplished in just a decade after receiving his Ph.D.

“Through his entrepreneurial and creative pursuit of new data and methods for economic measurement, Gabriel Zucman has uncovered a range of fundamentally important facts quantifying the importance of tax evasion and measuring the rise of top income and wealth inequality,” the AEA said in announcing the award.

Cover of the 2019 book "Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay" by UC Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman

Colleagues at Berkeley echoed that praise.

Zucman’s “innovative work on the drivers of inequality, particularly wealth inequality, and his development of policies to reduce them, has been game-changing,” said Berkeley sociologist Raka Ray, dean of the Social Sciences Division.

“Gabriel has been able to revolutionize our understanding of tax evasion of the wealthy and tax avoidance of big multinational corporations,” added fellow economist Emmanuel Saez,  who won the Clark Medal in 2009. “It is hard to think of any other young economist whose research has had such an impact, both in the academic debate and the policy debate.”

In an interview, Zucman described the medal as an honor — not just for himself, but for the entire economics department at Berkeley.

“I’m very grateful for this honor,” he said. “Most importantly, I’m grateful for the colleagues, the students, the co-authors and the mentors who have worked with me over the years. Research is really a collaborative process, and none of this research would have been possible without all of them.”

Zucman is co-director of the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Center on Wealth and Income Inequality at Berkeley. He is currently on leave from Berkeley and working at Ecole Normale Supérieure–PSL in Paris and the Paris School of Economics, where he received his Ph.D. in 2013. He joined the Berkeley faculty in 2015.

He is the fourth current faculty member in the economics department to win the Clark Medal. Besides Saez, Emi Nakamura won in 2019; labor economist David Card won in 1995, then went on to win the Nobel Prize in 2021.

Read the full article at Berkeley News