Power Laws in Economics and Finance

Posted: 31 Aug 2011

See all articles by Xavier Gabaix

Xavier Gabaix

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2009

Abstract

A power law (PL) is the form taken by a large number of surprising empirical regularities in economics and finance. This review surveys well-documented empirical PLs regarding income and wealth, the size of cities and firms, stock market returns, trading volume, international trade, and executive pay. It reviews detail-independent theoretical motivations that make sharp predictions concerning the existence and coefficients of PLs, without requiring delicate tuning of model parameters. These theoretical mechanisms include random growth, optimization, and the economics of superstars, coupled with extreme value theory. Some empirical regularities currently lack an appropriate explanation. This article highlights these open areas for future research.

Suggested Citation

Gabaix, Xavier, Power Laws in Economics and Finance (January 2009). Annual Review of Economics, Vol. 1, pp. 255-294, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1920057 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.economics.050708.142940

Xavier Gabaix (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o ECARES ULB CP 114
B-1050 Brussels
Belgium

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