2019/02.1: Fix, ‘How the Rich are Different: Hierarchical Power as the Basis of Income Size and Class’

Abstract This paper investigates a new approach to understanding personal and functional income distribution. I propose that hierarchical power — the command of subordinates in a hierarchy — is what distinguishes the rich from the poor and capitalists from workers. Specifically, I hypothesize that individual income increases with hierarchical power, as does the share of […]

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The Allure of Marxism … And Why It’s a Mistake

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down Blair Fix Karl Marx is probably the most important social scientist in history. But while his influence is beyond compare, Marx’s legacy is, in many ways, disastrous. Few thinkers have inspired so many people to commit crimes against humanity. Think of Stalinist gulags. Think of the Ukrainian […]

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Fix, ‘Energy, Hierarchy and the Origin of Inequality’

Abstract Where should we look to understand the origin of inequality? I propose an unusual window of evidence — modern societies. I hypothesize that evidence for the origin of inequality is encoded in the institutional structure of industrial societies. To test this idea, I use a model to project modern trends into the past. This […]

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Fix, ‘The Trouble With Human Capital Theory’

Abstract Human capital theory is the dominant approach for understanding personal income distribution. According to this theory, individual income is the result of ‘human capital’. The idea is that human capital makes people more productive, which leads to higher income. But is this really the case? This paper takes a critical look at human capital […]

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2018/09: Fix, ‘Energy, Hierarchy and the Origin of Inequality’

Abstract Where should we look to understand the origin of inequality? Most research focuses on three windows of evidence: (1) the archaeological record; (2) existing traditional societies; and (3) the historical record. I propose a fourth window of evidence — modern society itself. I hypothesize that we can infer the origin of inequality from the […]

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2018/07: Fix, ‘The Trouble with Human Capital Theory’

Abstract Human capital theory is the dominant approach for understanding personal income distribution. According to this theory, individual income is the result of ‘human capital’. The idea is that human capital makes people more productive, which leads to higher income. But is this really the case? This paper takes a critical look at human capital […]

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2018/06: Fix, ‘Capitalist Income and Hierarchical Power: A Gradient Hypothesis’

Abstract 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 […]

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Fix, ‘Economics from the Top Down: Does Hierarchy Unify Economic Theory?’

Abstract What is the unit of analysis in economics? The prevailing orthodoxy in mainstream economic theory is that the individual is the ‘ultimate’ unit of analysis. The implicit goal of mainstream economics is to root macro-level social structure in the micro-level actions of individuals. But there is a simple problem with this approach: our knowledge […]

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2018/05: Fix, ‘The Growth of US Top Income Inequality: A Hierarchical Redistribution Hypothesis’

Abstract What accounts for the growth of US top income inequality? This paper proposes a hierarchical redistribution hypothesis. The idea is that US firms have systematically redistributed income to the top of the corporate hierarchy. I test this hypothesis using a large scale hierarchy model of the US private sector. My method is to vary […]

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Fix, ‘Hierarchy and the power-law income distribution tail’

Abstract What explains the power-law distribution of top incomes? This paper tests the hypothesis that it is firm hierarchy that creates the power-law income distribution tail. Using the available case-study evidence on firm hierarchy, I create the first large-scale simulation of the hierarchical structure of the US private sector. Although not tuned to do so, […]

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2018/02: Fix, ‘A Hierarchy Model of Income Distribution’

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 […]

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No. 2017/03: Fix, ‘Evidence for a Power Theory of Personal Income Distribution’

Abstract This paper proposes a new ‘power theory’ of personal income distribution. Contrary to the standard assumption that income is proportional to productivity, I hypothesize that income is most strongly determined by social power, as indicated by one’s position within an institutional hierarchy. While many theorists have proposed a connection between personal income and power, […]

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Fix, ‘Energy and Institution Size’

Abstract Why do institutions grow? Despite nearly a century of scientific effort, there remains little consensus on this topic. This paper offers a new approach that focuses on energy consumption. A systematic relation exists between institution size and energy consumption per capita: as energy consumption increases, institutions become larger. I hypothesize that this relation results […]

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No. 2016/04: Fix, ‘Energy and Institution Size’

Abstract Why do institutions grow? Despite nearly a century of scientific effort, there remains little consensus on this topic. This paper offers a new approach that focuses on energy consumption. A systematic relation exists between institution size and energy consumption per capita: as energy consumption increases, institutions become larger. I hypothesize that this relation results […]

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Putting Power Back into Growth Theory

Putting Power Back Into Growth Theory BLAIR FIX June 2015 Abstract Neoclassical growth theory assumes that economic growth is an atomistic process in which changes in distribution play no role. Unfortunately, when this assumption is tested against real-world evidence, it is systematically violated. This paper argues that a reality-based growth theory must reject neoclassical principles […]

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Fix, ‘Putting Power Back Into Growth Theory’

Abstract Neoclassical growth theory assumes that economic growth is an atomistic process in which changes in distribution play no role. Unfortunately, when this assumption is tested against real-world evidence, it is systematically violated. This paper argues that a reality-based growth theory must reject neoclassical principles in favour of a power-centered approach. Building on Nitzan and […]

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