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Understanding the causes of income inequality in complex economic systems

We suggest in this paper that inequality in economic systems can be profitably analysed using complex systems analysis. We explain how we can capture, analytically, complexity in an economic system by applying graph theory in networks. We then develop a highly stylised theoretical model of how income inequality arises naturally due to the fact that a skewed income distribution necessarily arises from “preferential attachment†in a complex economic system. We characterise this process, both in the market system broadly defined and, specifically, within a firm. It is argued that such a complex systems approach (despite being vastly simplified here) provides a superior basis for understanding income inequality compared to standard economic analysis.

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File URL: http://www.uq.edu.au/economics/abstract/478.pdf
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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia in its series Discussion Papers Series with number 478.

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Date of creation: 10 May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:qld:uq2004:478
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  1. John Foster, 2005. "From simplistic to complex systems in economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(6), pages 873-892, November.
  2. Corso, G. & Lucena, L.S. & Thomé, Z.D., 2003. "The small-world of economy: a speculative proposal," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 324(1), pages 430-436.
  3. Sheri M. Markose, 2005. "Computability and Evolutionary Complexity: Markets as Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS)," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(504), pages F159-F192, 06.
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  6. Jeong-Yoo Kim & Hang-Hyun Jo, 2010. "A signalling explanation for preferential attachment in the evolution of social networks," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 375-393, June.
  7. Oliver E. Williamson, 2002. "The Theory of the Firm as Governance Structure: From Choice to Contract," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 171-195, Summer.
  8. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680, March.
  9. Stuart McDonald & Mohamad Alghamdi & Bernard Pailthorpe, 2012. "The Emergence of a Small World in a Network of Research Joint Ventures," Discussion Papers Series 469, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  10. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
  11. Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 2002. "Evolutionary Theorizing in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 23-46, Spring.
  12. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  13. Frank Schweitzer & Giorgio Fagiolo & Didier Sornette & Fernando Vega-Redondo & Douglas R. White, 2009. "Economic Networks: What Do We Know And What Do We Need To Know?," Advances in Complex Systems (ACS), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 12(04), pages 407-422.
  14. Peter Earl & Tim Wakeley, 2010. "Alternative perspectives on connections in economic systems," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 163-183, April.
  15. Hausman, Daniel M, 1989. "Economic Methodology in a Nutshell," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 115-27, Spring.
  16. Foster, John, 1993. "Economics and the Self-Organisation Approach: Alfred Marshall Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(419), pages 975-91, July.
  17. Earl, Peter E, 1990. "Economics and Psychology: A Survey," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(402), pages 718-55, September.
  18. Mary Gregory & Miriam Beblo & Wiemer Salverda & Ioannis Theodossiou, 2009. "Introduction," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(suppl_1), pages i1-i10, April.
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