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Michael Nau

Research Findings

What comes after the corporation?

January 7, 2020

When we think about the power of business in our society, we tend to think about corporations. With rising income inequality in America and with record breaking levels of campaign contributions in each election cycle, it’s no surprise that large majorities of Americans feel corporations have too much power.

Strange as it may sound, corporate power is less concentrated in America than in the past: the number of corporations has actually fallen in the United States since the 1980s and they are no longer as large and integrated as they were in the Mad Men era (think of General Motors in its heyday).

In a recent paper, we highlight how the business elite are increasingly tied to non-corporate organizations like limited liability companies (LLCs) and limited partnerships (LPs). We find that families in the top 1% of the income distribution – especially white families and men in this elite stratum – disproportionately benefit from these organizations.

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