Capitalist Income and Hierarchical Power: A Gradient Hypothesis

Capitalist Income and Hierarchical Power: A Gradient Hypothesis
Fix, Blair. (2018). Working Papers on Capital as Power. No. 2018/06. July. pp. 1-32. (Article - Working Paper; English).

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Abstract or Brief Description

This paper offers a new approach to the study of capitalist income. Building on the ‘capital as power’ framework, I propose that capitalists earn their income not from any productive asset, but from the legal right to command a corporate hierarchy. In short, I hypothesize that capitalist income stems from hierarchical power. Based on this thinking, I hypothesize that the capitalist fraction of an individual’s income is a gradient function of hierarchical power (which I define as the number of subordinates under one’s control). Using data from US CEOs, I find evidence that this is true. Furthermore, a hierarchical model of the United States that generalizes this data accurately reproduces many aspects of the US distribution of capitalist income, including the relation between income size and capitalist income fraction. This evidence suggests that the ownership structure of US society is closely linked to the hierarchical structure of firms. This has important implications for the study of income distribution.



Publication Type

Article - Working Paper


capital as power capitalist income functional income distribution hierarchy inequality personal income distribution


BN Power
BN Region - North America
BN Business Enterprise
BN Capital & Accumulation
BN Class
BN Distribution
BN Institutions

Depositing User

Jonathan Nitzan

Date Deposited

22 Aug 2018 13:58

Last Modified

30 Aug 2018 01:15


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