The "law" of wealth concentration

Carl Remick carlremick at
Wed Aug 16 12:14:30 PDT 2000

Now I see why socialism doesn't work: It violates the laws of physics -- or so claims an article in New Scientist this week.

Here's the article's abstract: "Every country in the world has a few rich people and then a long tail of poorer and poorer people. In fact, not only does a filthy-rich minority always hog most of the wealth, but the mathematical form of the distribution is the same everywhere. In much of the Western world, for example, 20 per cent of the people always own 80 per cent of the wealth. Is this a law of economics? No, worse than that - it's a law of nature. With the help of some serious mathematics borrowed from the study of disordered materials, econophysicists Jean-Philippe Boucaud and Marc Mezard explain why we'd still end up with the same distributions of rich and poor, even if we all started life with the same abilities and the same amount of money. On a brighter note however, even if the new theory can predict ratios, it can't forecast which of us will be rich and which will be poor."

Full text is at

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