Winners of Second Amartya Sen Prize Announced

The Yale Global Justice Program, Global Financial Integrity, and Academics Stand Against Poverty are pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Amartya Sen Prize Competition. Prizes have been awarded to joint authors, Matti Ylonen and Teivo Teivainen, for their paper entitled ‘The Politics of Intra-Firm Trade’ and to Nikolay Anguelov for his paper entitled ‘Lowering the Corporate Marginal Tax Rate’. The prizes are named in honor of Amartya Sen, whose work has shown how the rigor of economic thinking can be brought to bear on normative and practical questions of great human significance.

Many good submissions were received and the shortlisted essays were read by a jury of celebrated experts in the area of illicit financial flows. The judges felt that both essays were equally deserving of the award and authors of both winning pieces will present their papers and receive their prize from Amartya Sen himself on 30 October at the GJP Conference (Global Justice Post-2015). They will be taken out for a meal with other conference guests and 4000 USD is awarded to the authors of each essay. The GJP is proud to congratulate the winners, and thank all who participated in the competition.

Illicit financial flows are international movements of funds that have been illegally earned or are being illegally transferred or utilized. Such flows may involve proceeds of corruption or other crimes – or be associated with efforts to evade corporate or individual taxation. According to the NGO Global Financial Integrity, developing countries are especially harshly affected by illicit financial outflows, losing some $6.6 trillion in the decade ending in 2012 and about $1 trillion annually more recently.

The 2015 Amartya Sen Prize Competition was open to essays exploring the intelligent use of incentives toward curtailing corporations’ use of tax evasion and avoidance, abusive transfer pricing and all forms of illicit financial flows. Many have been upset by media reports about how corporations dodge taxes around the world. What can we as consumers and investors do toward curtailing such practices? Consumers can direct purchases away from offending firms. Investors can use the voting rights their shares confer to influence the way corporations manage their affairs, and they can also influence firms by divesting themselves of shares and by shunning certain investments. And people related to large investors (e.g., students at a well-endowed university, participants in a large pension fund) can try to nudge that investor toward exerting more and better influence on corporations.

Efforts by consumers and investors to improve corporate behavior will be much more effective if they are concerted, that is, if consumers and investors reward and penalize the same sorts of behaviors. Such concerted action presupposes objective and transparent standards for assessing corporate behavior as the basis on which consumers and investors can then reward and penalize. Essays were judged by their contribution toward achieving such effective concerted action and while some were predominantly normative, working out, perhaps, what the appropriate standards for assessing corporate behavior should be; others were predominantly empirical, examining for example how similar efforts have fared in the past; and still others predominantly practical, experimentally exploring what sorts of incentives are most likely to have the desired effects; or they combined normative, empirical and practical elements.