French economist Thomas Piketty, author of the best-selling 700-page book on inequality and wealth, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” has turned down the Legion of Honor, saying the government should focus on reviving the country’s anemic economy rather than “decide who is honorable.”
Mr. Piketty’s refusal of one of France’s highest distinctions—announced via a short declaration to the Agence France-Presse news agency—is a snub to the government a day after President François Hollande cited the global influence of French scholars as evidence of the country’s unfailing might.
Mr. Hollande’s spokesman said the president had no comment on Mr. Piketty’s move. The 43-year-old economist confirmed his decision in an email on Friday.
Lobbying for a complete overhaul of France’s tax system, Mr. Piketty supported Mr. Hollande in the 2012 presidential race, in which the Socialist defeated incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy. Since then, however, the economist has openly criticized Mr. Hollande’s government.