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Is the wealth of the world’s billionaires not Paretian?


  • Capehart, Kevin W.


According to previous studies that applied a popular goodness-of-fit test, the wealth of the world’s billionaires does not follow a Pareto distribution. The test applied by those studies assumes that wealth is measured without error, yet, if different sources of data on the wealthiest people in the world are compared, then wealth appears to be measured with error. This paper shows that the conclusions drawn from the goodness-of-fit test can change when the test is modified to account for measurement errors.

Suggested Citation

  • Capehart, Kevin W., 2014. "Is the wealth of the world’s billionaires not Paretian?," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 395(C), pages 255-260.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:395:y:2014:i:c:p:255-260 DOI: 10.1016/j.physa.2013.09.026

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Parameswaran Gopikrishnan & Vasiliki Plerou & Luis A. Nunes Amaral & Martin Meyer & H. Eugene Stanley, 1999. "Scaling of the distribution of fluctuations of financial market indices," Papers cond-mat/9905305,
    2. V. Plerou & P. Gopikrishnan & L. A. N. Amaral & M. Meyer & H. E. Stanley, 1999. "Scaling of the distribution of price fluctuations of individual companies," Papers cond-mat/9907161,
    3. Sinha, Sitabhra, 2006. "Evidence for power-law tail of the wealth distribution in India," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 359(C), pages 555-562.
    4. Levy, Moshe & Solomon, Sorin, 1997. "New evidence for the power-law distribution of wealth," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 242(1), pages 90-94.
    5. Klass, Oren S. & Biham, Ofer & Levy, Moshe & Malcai, Ofer & Solomon, Sorin, 2006. "The Forbes 400 and the Pareto wealth distribution," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 290-295, February.
    6. Hideaki Aoyama & Yuichi Nagahara & Mitsuhiro P. Okazaki & Wataru Souma & Hideki Takayasu & Misako Takayasu, 2000. "Pareto's Law for Income of Individuals and Debt of Bankrupt Companies," Papers cond-mat/0006038,
    7. Tomson Ogwang, 2011. "Power laws in top wealth distributions: evidence from Canada," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 473-486, October.
    8. Ogwang, Tomson, 2013. "Is the wealth of the world’s billionaires Paretian?," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 392(4), pages 757-762.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frank A. Cowell & Philippe Kerm, 2015. "Wealth Inequality: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 671-710, September.
    2. Westermeier, Christian, 2016. "Estimating top wealth shares using survey data - An empiricist's guide," Discussion Papers 2016/21, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.


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