Portrait of Laurent Simula, former AMSE PhD

  • Portrait

When Laurent Simula did his PhD research under the supervision of Alain Trannoy from 2003 to 2007 at AMSE, he was already exploring ‘optimal taxation in a globalized world’. Today, he holds the Chair of the Economics Section at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon and is a researcher within the Groupe d’Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE).


I hold a PhD in Economics from EHESS and did my PhD at AMSE/GREQAM between 2003 and 2007 under the supervision of Alain Trannoy. My thesis was entitled «Optimal Income Taxation, Incentive Constraints, Participation Constraints». After AMSE/GREQAM, I went to the United States for a postdoctoral year spent at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

I worked abroad for 10 years, first as an assistant professor and then as an associate professor, at the National University of Singapore and at Uppsala University, the oldest university in the Nordic countries.

I came back to France as a professor in 2016, became the Deputy Director of the Applied Economics Lab at Grenoble-Alpes University. In 2017, I joined the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, as the Chairman its Economics Section. I have been in charge of setting up the new “economic track” of our diploma, which now offers a coherent and progressive three year research-oriented program, consisting of a pre-master followed by a two-year master program entirely taught in English. I also served as an expert for the French Court of Auditors (Cour des Comptes), particularly advising the board of mandatory contributions “Conseil des Prélèvements Obligatoires”.


My research interests have not changed so much since my PhD! My main research areas are applied micro and public economics, with a special focus on how to design redistributive policies to fight income and wealth inequalities in a world where rich households and firms can threaten to vote with their feet.

I am still working with Alain Trannoy on the theory of optimal taxation: what would constitute the best income tax system? What are the main inefficiencies of current system? How can we identify and correct them? These are (some of) the mains questions we are exploring.

At GATE, I’m kept busy designing research projects and submitting tenders, both under our on-site research themes and in partnership with other institutions. Recently, the French National Research Agency selected the ‘MIDDLECLASS’ project I coordinate for a 48-month grant. The GATE team of economists located at ENS de Lyon will collaborate with Aix Marseille School of Economics and CREST-Ecole Polytechnique. The interaction between taxation and political economy are at the core of this project, and articulated through the idea of “tax consent”.


AMSE/GREQAM gave me a rigorous training in economics and I’ve never stopped working with my thesis supervisor! He was always very approachable and involved in my research, and as a supervisor myself today, I try to follow his example. While I was in AMSE/GREQAM, I had the opportunity to be part of the European doctoral program EDGE. This gave me the chance to do a year and a half of my thesis research at the Universituy of Cambridge University. Overall, I remember AMSE/GREQAM as a university with very wide horizons, which provided opportunities for international training and hosted renowned scientists from abroad.

I still have good memories of the Monday Seminars at GREQAM: there were lively discussions, where you met many interesting people – a place which opened doors for us as students.

© Photo by Hurca! on Adobe Stock


→ This article was issued in AMSE Newletter, Fall 2020.