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Entropic basis of the Pareto law


  • Rawlings, Philip K.
  • Reguera, David
  • Reiss, Howard


Based on the assumption that certain economies achieve quasi-equilibrium, an appropriate economic statistical thermodynamics is formulated in which entropy emerges naturally. Under the assumption that the small group of high income agents, whose income distribution satisfies Pareto's law, does not much interact with the larger group of lower income agents, the corresponding statistical thermodynamic relations are applied in order to derive the Pareto law. The derivation requires the assumption that the sum of logarithms of the incomes of the individual agents (or the product of incomes) in this group is conserved. A strong plausibility argument for this assumption is presented. It also turns out (in accordance with intuition) that in order to increase the average income of an agent more “risk” in the form of greater entropy production must be assumed. Other consequences are discussed, and an experimental demonstration of the uniformity of economic temperature in a system, at economic equilibrium, is presented.

Suggested Citation

  • Rawlings, Philip K. & Reguera, David & Reiss, Howard, 2004. "Entropic basis of the Pareto law," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 343(C), pages 643-652.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:343:y:2004:i:c:p:643-652
    DOI: 10.1016/j.physa.2004.06.152

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    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Schools of Economic Thought, Epistemology of Economics > Heterodox Approaches > Thermoeconomics


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    Cited by:

    1. Zoltan Kuscsik & Denis Horvath, 2007. "Statistical properties of agent-based market area model," Papers 0710.0459,
    2. Victor M. Yakovenko & J. Barkley Rosser, 2009. "Colloquium: Statistical mechanics of money, wealth, and income," Papers 0905.1518,, revised Dec 2009.


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