We construct a tractable neoclassical growth model that generates Pareto's law of income distribution and Zipf's law of the firm size distribution from idiosyncratic, firm-level productivity shocks. Executives and entrepreneurs invest in risk-free assets, as well as their own firms' risky stocks, through which their wealth and income depend on firm-level shocks. By using the model, we evaluate how changes in tax rates can account for the evolution of top incomes in the United States. The model matches the decline in the Pareto exponent of the income distribution and the trend of the top 1 percent income share in recent decades.
"Zipf's Law, Pareto's Law, and the Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States."
American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics,
Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions
Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies; includes inheritance and gift taxes
Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms