Wealth inequality: The physics basis


Journal Article

© 2017 Author(s). "Inequality" is a common observation about us, as members of society. In this article, we unify physics with economics by showing that the distribution of wealth is related proportionally to the movement of all the streams of a live society. The hierarchical distribution of wealth on the earth happens naturally. Hierarchy is unavoidable, with staying power, and difficult to efface. We illustrate this with two architectures, river basins and the movement of freight. The physical flow architecture that emerges is hierarchical on the surface of the earth and in everything that flows inside the live human bodies, the movement of humans and their belongings, and the engines that drive the movement. The nonuniform distribution of wealth becomes more accentuated as the economy becomes more developed, i.e., as its flow architecture becomes more complex for the purpose of covering smaller and smaller interstices of the overall (fixed) territory. It takes a relatively modest complexity for the nonuniformity in the distribution of wealth to be evident. This theory also predicts the Lorenz-type distribution of income inequality, which was adopted empirically for a century.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bejan, A; R Errera, M

Published Date

  • March 28, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 121 / 12

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1089-7550

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0021-8979

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1063/1.4977962

Citation Source

  • Scopus