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Applications of statistical mechanics to economics: Entropic origin of the probability distributions of money, income, and energy consumption

  • Victor M. Yakovenko
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    This Chapter is written for the Festschrift celebrating the 70th birthday of the distinguished economist Duncan Foley from the New School for Social Research in New York. This Chapter reviews applications of statistical physics methods, such as the principle of entropy maximization, to the probability distributions of money, income, and global energy consumption per capita. The exponential probability distribution of wages, predicted by the statistical equilibrium theory of a labor market developed by Foley in 1996, is supported by empirical data on income distribution in the USA for the majority (about 97%) of population. In addition, the upper tail of income distribution (about 3% of population) follows a power law and expands dramatically during financial bubbles, which results in a significant increase of the overall income inequality. A mathematical analysis of the empirical data clearly demonstrates the two-class structure of a society, as pointed out Karl Marx and recently highlighted by the Occupy Movement. Empirical data for the energy consumption per capita around the world are close to an exponential distribution, which can be also explained by the entropy maximization principle.

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    File URL: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1204.6483
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    Paper provided by arXiv.org in its series Papers with number 1204.6483.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1204.6483
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    1. Wright, Ian, 2005. "The social architecture of capitalism," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 346(3), pages 589-620.
    2. Chakrabarti, Anindya S. & Chakrabarti, Bikas K., 2009. "Microeconomics of the ideal gas like market models," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 388(19), pages 4151-4158.
    3. Wright, Ian, 2009. "Implicit Microfoundations for Macroeconomics," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, vol. 3, pages 1-27.
    4. J. Doyne Farmer & Martin Shubik & Eric Smith, 2005. "Economics: the next physical science?," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1520, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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    6. Ning Xi & Ning Ding & Yougui Wang, 2005. "How Required Reserve Ratio Affects Distribution and Velocity of Money," Papers physics/0507160, arXiv.org.
    7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521831062 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Armon Rezai & Duncan Foley & Lance Taylor, 2012. "Global warming and economic externalities," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 329-351, February.
    9. Miguel Molico, 2006. "The Distribution Of Money And Prices In Search Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(3), pages 701-722, 08.
    10. Yoshi Fujiwara & Wataru Souma & Hideaki Aoyama & Taisei Kaizoji & Masanao Aoki, 2002. "Growth and Fluctuations of Personal Income," Papers cond-mat/0208398, arXiv.org.
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