Temporal evolution of the "thermal" and "superthermal" income classes in the USA during 1983-2001A. Christian Silva and Victor M. Yakovenko
Department of Physics, University of Maryland - College Park, MD 20742-4111, USA
received 13 September 2004; accepted in final form 9 November 2004
published online 22 December 2004
Personal income distribution in the USA has a well-defined two-class structure. The majority of population (97-99%) belongs to the lower class characterized by the exponential Boltzmann-Gibbs ("thermal") distribution, whereas the upper class (1-3% of the population) has a Pareto power law ("superthermal") distribution. By analyzing income data for 1983-2001, we show that the "thermal" part is stationary in time, save for a gradual increase of the effective temperature, whereas the "superthermal" tail swells and shrinks following the stock market. We discuss the concept of equilibrium inequality in a society, based on the principle of maximal entropy, and quantitatively show that it applies to the majority of population.
89.65.Gh - Economics; econophysics, financial markets, business and management.
89.75.Da - Systems obeying scaling laws.
05.20.-y - Classical statistical mechanics.
© EDP Sciences 2005