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Is the Distribution of Income Compatible with a Stable Distribution?




Mandelbrot (1961) proposed to apply the class of Pareto-Levy distributions - which belong to the Stable distributions - as a framework for modelling income distributions. He also presented theoretic arguments in favor of the Pareto-Levy distributions. In this paper we provide additional theoretical justification for this class of distributions. We also use micro data on individual market income to estimate the parameters of a Pareto-Levy distribution. Several estimation methods have been applied. The estimated Pareto-Levy distribution appears to fit the data well.

Suggested Citation

  • John K. Dagsvik & Bjørn H. Vatne, 1999. "Is the Distribution of Income Compatible with a Stable Distribution?," Discussion Papers 246, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:246

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. van Dijk, Herman K & Kloek, Teun, 1980. "Inferential Procedures in Stable Distributions for Class Frequency Data on Incomes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1139-1148, July.
    2. McCulloch, J Huston, 1997. "Measuring Tail Thickness to Estimate the Stable Index Alpha: A Critique," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(1), pages 74-81, January.
    3. Rolf Aaberge, 1995. "Choosing Measures of Inequality for Empirical Applications," Discussion Papers 158, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jess Benhabib & Alberto Bisin, 2016. "Skewed Wealth Distributions: Theory and Empirics," NBER Working Papers 21924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Jess Benhabib & Alberto Bisin & Shenghao Zhu, 2011. "The Distribution of Wealth and Fiscal Policy in Economies With Finitely Lived Agents," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(1), pages 123-157, January.
    3. Jess Benhabib & Alberto Bisin & Shenghao Zhu, 2014. "The Wealth Distribution in Bewley Models with Investment Risk," NBER Working Papers 20157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jess Benhabib & Alberto Bisin, 2006. "The distribution of wealth and redistributive policies," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001162, David K. Levine.
    5. Dieter von Fintel, 2006. "Earnings bracket obstacles in household surveys – How sharp are the tools in the shed?," Working Papers 08/2006, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    6. Benhabib, Jess & Bisin, Alberto & Zhu, Shenghao, 2015. "The wealth distribution in Bewley economies with capital income risk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PA), pages 489-515.

    More about this item


    Stable distributions; Pareto-Levy distributions; Income distributions;

    JEL classification:

    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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