Volume 69, Number 2, January 2005
|Page(s)||304 - 310|
|Section||Interdisciplinary physics and related areas of science and technology|
|Published online||22 December 2004|
Temporal evolution of the “thermal” and “superthermal” income classes in the USA during 1983–2001
Department of Physics, University of Maryland - College Park, MD 20742-4111, USA
Accepted: 9 November 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.
PACS: 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
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