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