Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics & Astronomy

College Station, Texas 77843

Event Details

Similarly to the probability distribution of energy in physics, the probability distribution of money among the agents in a closed economic system is also expected to follow the exponential Boltzmann-Gibbs law, as a consequence of entropy maximization. Analysis of empirical data shows that income distributions in the USA, European Union, and other countries exhibit a well-defined two-class structure. The majority of the population (about 97%) belongs to the lower class characterized by the exponential (“thermal”) distribution. The upper class (about 3% of the population) is characterized by the Pareto powerlaw (“superthermal”) distribution, and its share of the total income expands and contracts dramatically during booms and busts in financial markets. Globally, data analysis of energy consumption per capita around the world shows decreasing inequality in the last 30 years and convergence toward the exponential probability distribution, in agreement with the maximal entropy principle. The latter topic was featured on Brian Lehrer’s TV show at https://tv.cuny.edu/show/brianlehrer/PR2002638 (in the Public Intellectual segment starting around minute 40).