The Pareto Distribution and Its Relationship To Piketty's Third Fundamental Law of Capitalism

Hong Ngoc Thao Trinh

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Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between the Pareto distribution and Piketty’s third fundamental law of capitalism. It has been widely known that top income and wealth takes the form of Pareto distribution, yet there is very limited literature investigating the role of Piketty’s third fundamental law of capitalism, in which r (the rate of return on capital) > g (the growth rate of national income), in determining the shape parameter ? of the Pareto distribution. The central takeaway of this paper includes: (i) a critical assessment of Piketty’s criticism of Pareto’s work on distributional inequality, presented in Capital in the Twenty First century (2014) in which he indicated that Pareto had an illusion of “stable” inequality; and (ii) a simple agent model to formally demonstrate the relationship between Pareto’s a and Piketty’s third fundamental law of capitalism. The first one concerns intellectual history and the second one has contemporary relevance.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUWA Business School
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameEconomics Discussion Papers
No.11
Volume17

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