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A Hierarchy Model of Income Distribution

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  • Fix, Blair

    (York University)

Abstract

Based on worldly experience, most people would agree that firms are hierarchically organized, and that pay tends to increase as one moves up the hierarchy. But how this hierarchical structure affects income distribution has not been widely studied. To remedy this situation, this paper presents a new model of income distribution that explores the effects of social hierarchy. This 'hierarchy model' takes the limited available evidence on the structure of firm hierarchies, and generalizes it to create a large-scale simulation of the hierarchical structure of the United States economy. Using this model, I conduct the first quantitative investigation of hierarchy's effect on income distribution. I find that hierarchy plays a dominant role in shaping the tail of US income distribution. The model suggests that hierarchy is responsible for generating the power-law scaling of top incomes. Moreover, I find that hierarchy can be used to unify the study of personal and functional income distribution, as well as to understand historical trends in income inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Fix, Blair, 2018. "A Hierarchy Model of Income Distribution," SocArXiv s3y2m, Center for Open Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:osf:socarx:s3y2m
    DOI: 10.31219/osf.io/s3y2m
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Fix, Blair, 2017. "Evidence for a Power Theory of Personal Income Distribution," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2017/03, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    2. David L. Carr & James R. Markusen & Keith E. Maskus, 2021. "Estimating The Knowledge-Capital Model of the Multinational Enterprise," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: BROADENING TRADE THEORY Incorporating Market Realities into Traditional Models, chapter 5, pages 95-110, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. Fix, Blair, 2017. "Evidence for a Power Theory of Personal Income Distribution," SocArXiv qgwus, Center for Open Science.
    4. Angle, John, 2006. "The Inequality Process as a wealth maximizing process," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 367(C), pages 388-414.
    5. Ivan O. Kitov, 2009. "Mechanical Model of Personal Income Distribution," Papers 0903.0203, arXiv.org.
    6. Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan, 2016. "A CasP Model of the Stock Market," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 119-154.
    7. Conyon, Martin J & Murphy, Kevin J, 2000. "The Prince and the Pauper? CEO Pay in the United States and United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages 640-671, November.
    8. Nitzan, Jonathan & Bichler, Shimshon, 2009. "Capital as Power. A Study of Order and Creorder," EconStor Books, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, number 157973.
    9. Veblen, Thorstein, 1904. "Theory of Business Enterprise," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number veblen1904.
    10. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "The Evolution of Top Incomes: A Historical and International Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 200-205, May.
    11. Nirei, Makoto, 2009. "Pareto Distributions in Economic Growth Models," IIR Working Paper 09-05, Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    12. Fix, Blair, 2015. "Putting Power Back Into Growth Theory," Review of Capital as Power, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism, vol. 1(2), pages 1-37.
    13. Baker, George & Gibbs, Michael & Holmstrom, Bengt, 1993. "Hierarchies and compensation: A case study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 366-378, April.
    14. Treble, John & van Gameren, Edwin & Bridges, Sarah & Barmby, Tim, 2001. "The internal economics of the firm: further evidence from personnel data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(5), pages 531-552, December.
    15. Joshua M. Epstein & Robert L. Axtell, 1996. "Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550253.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martin, Ulf, 2018. "The autocatalytic sprawl of pseudorational mastery (version 0.12)," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2018/04, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.

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