Honorary doctorate awardee Robin Boadway explains his contributions to the design of efficient and fair tax systems

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Robin Boadway being awarded an honorary doctorate.

Robin Boadway being awarded an honorary doctorate.


The Canadian economist Robin Boadway was given an honorary doctorate by the UB. The researcher, a distinguished figure in the field of public finance, talked about the work he has carried out throughout his career, from his extensive research on fiscal federalism to his current work to encourage cooperation between countries regarding challenges such as global warming.

When explaining his research on fiscal federalism, Boadway highlighted "both the universal applicability of the basic principles of fiscal federalism around the world and the need to adapt it to the institutional, historical and cultural idiosyncrasies of each federation". In his speech, he analysed the possibilities and problems of tools such as equalisation transfers to reconcile the benefits of decentralisation with its potential costs, with the objectives of national equity and efficiency.

Boadway has dedicated his study to tax systems for efficient and fair revenue raising, specifically in search of optimal taxation. In his speech, he referred to his recent research on "wealth taxation and wealth transfers as ways of addressing the growing inequality in wealth ownership observed in many OECD countries". He advocated a progressive inheritance tax separate from income tax and opposed an annual wealth tax.

Global public goods

"A final area of research, which is somewhat divorced from the previous ones, deals with an issue of pressing policy concern today. It is the problem of global public goods, such as pollution and global warming", said Boadway. The author has studied mechanisms to achieve cooperative behaviour between countries. He gave the example of matching mechanisms (all countries adjust their contributions in relation to those of other states, following central coordination) and quantity-contingent mechanisms (a large country commits to making a certain contribution contingent on other countries contributing at least some specified amount, so that central coordination is not necessary).

Boadway’s sponsor in the ceremony, Alejandro Esteller, started his speech describing "Professor Robin Boadway as an example of a pure public good", given that "he focuses his analysis on relevant problems that affect us as a society", which "highlights the value of the work of the theoretical economist". In this sense, he stated that Boadway’s work highlights "the need for a theoretical foundation" in economic policies. Esteller highlighted Boadway’s academic worth, who is among the top 10% of researchers worldwide in the field of public finance according to the IDEAS ranking, and his relationship with the UB. He ended his speech highlighting the impact of Boadway’s work both "in the strictly academic field and, let’s call it that, in the applied field", in which his numerous advisory works stand out.

After the investiture, the extraordinary bachelor’s and master’s degree awards for the 2019-2020 academic year were presented. The president of the Board of Trustees, Joan Corominas, spoke then and highlighted the value of the Canadian economist’s speech. After that, he focused on the award-winning students, whose academic worth he pointed out, and concluded: "I am convinced that you are still better in your capacity for hard work and courage".

The rector of the UB, Joan Guārdia, closed the ceremony with a speech in which he said that both Boadway and the award-winning students "share something that goes beyond the prize: they are models, people who have shown that there is a path of effort that allows us to go further". The rector stated that the history of the University is full of such figures, from the time of Martin the Humane, the king who first proposed the creation of a Studium Generale in Barcelona in 1398, to the rectorship of Pere Bosch i Gimpera during the Second Republic. They are people who follow a university trajectory that consists of "fleeing from banality" and following the path of "effort and science".

You can see more photographs of the ceremony in this

Flickr album

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