NewsThe Science of Inequality

Physicists say it's simple

Science  23 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6186, pp. 828
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6186.828

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Via your Institution

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Summary

The basic inequality that plagues economies the world over may have a simple explanation—according to econophysicists. Pick a country and you'll find multitudes earning next to nothing, a few raking in plenty, and a distribution between the extremes that falls exponentially as income increases, they claim. That distribution arises from an analogy to the concept of entropy, a measure of disorder in a physical system such as a gas, econophysicists argue. If so, then just as a gas evolves to a state of maximum entropy, random churning in the economy ensures that the income distribution tends to this inequitable form.