2021/04: Fix, ‘Redistributing Income Through Hierarchy’

Abstract Although the determinants of income are complex, the results are surprisingly uniform. To a first approximation, top incomes follow a power-law distribution, and the redistribution of income corresponds to a change in the power-law exponent. Given the messiness of the struggle for resources, why is the outcome so simple? This paper explores the idea […]

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2021/02: Fix, ‘Living the good life in a non-growth world: Investigating the role of hierarchy’

Abstract Humanity’s most pressing need is to learn how to live within our planet’s boundaries — something that likely means doing without economic growth. How, then, can we create a non-growth society that is both just and equitable? I attempt to address this question by looking at an aspect of sustainability (and equity) that is […]

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2020/06: Bichler & Nitzan, ‘The Limits of Capitalized Power. A 2020 U.S. Update’

Abstract Until the late 2000s, our work focused primarily on why capitalism should be understood as a mode of power. We argued that capital itself is a form of organized power and researched how capitalists sustain, defend and augment their capitalized power. We called our approach ‘capital as power’ – or CasP, for short. But […]

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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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An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution (Part 1)

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down Blair Fix The biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously wrote that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. I propose a corollary in economics: nothing in economics makes sense except in the light of human social evolution. [1] I explore here how the evolution of […]

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Fix, ‘An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution’

Abstract This paper explores how the evolution of human sociality can help us understand how we distribute resources. Using ideas from sociobiology, I argue that resource distribution is marked by a tension between two levels of natural selection. At the group level, selfless behavior is advantageous. But at the individual level, selfish behavior is advantageous. […]

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Fix, ‘Personal Income and Hierarchical Power’

Abstract This article examines the relation between personal income and hierarchical power. In the context of a firm hierarchy, I define hierarchical power as the number of subordinates under an individual’s control. Using the available case-study evidence, I find that relative income within firms scales strongly with hierarchical power. I also find that hierarchical power […]

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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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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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2018/02: 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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Hager, ‘Public Debt, Inequality, and Power: The Making of a Modern Debt State’

Abstract Who are the dominant owners of US public debt? Is it widely held, or concentrated in the hands of a few? Does ownership of public debt give these bondholders power over our government? What do we make of the fact that foreign-owned debt has ballooned to nearly 50 percent today? Until now, we have […]

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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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Di Muzio, ‘The 1% and the Rest of Us: A Political Economy of Dominant Ownership’

Abstract While the Occupy movement faces many strategic and organizational challenges, one of its major accomplishments has been to draw global attention to the massive disparity of income, wealth and privilege held by 1% of the population in nations across the world. In The 1% and the Rest of Us, Tim Di Muzio explores what […]

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