Income Disparity And Physics: Explaining Economic Condition Of A Country With The Help Of Laws Of Physics

First Posted: Mar 29, 2017 03:50 AM EDT

The 2016 elections made it extremely clear that income disparity is dividing the society into the rich and the poor. Economists have been trying to define the reasons underlying this inequality of wealth distribution for years. An unexpected twist came in it when Adrian Bejan, a mechanical engineering and materials science professor at the Duke University, came up with a theory to explain wealth inequality through the application of principles and laws of physics.

Bejan explained that physics define the movement of all things. In other words, nothing moves without the application of energy in the form of a push or pull. Similarly, the movement of the social economy also needs a push. Since pushing occurs only at the expense of power or energy, economic push can be directly correlated with the power derived from fuels and the energy stored in a human body.

"The amount of fuel consumed by a nation is directly related to its economic growth," Bejan said. Furthermore, economics and physics are integrated into one another. This is why income disparity can be analyzed by the application of laws of physics, "The Constructal Law" to be more precise, EurekAlert reported.

Bejan put forward The Constructal Law back in 1996. The law states that all systems evolve to increase "their access to flow," just like the human vascular system has evolved to enhance the smooth flow of blood in large arteries as well as extremely thin capillaries. The theory also proposes that all kinds of movements are hierarchical, including the movement of wealth among the people living in a society.

Bejan collaborated with Marcelo Errera, an Environmental Engineering professor at the Federal University, Paraná in Brazil, and conducted an in-depth analysis on the implications of The Constructal Law and the non-uniform distribution of wealth. The findings of the study that were published in the Journal of Applied Physics indicated that distribution of wealth can be typically explained by visualizing a flow system that has many small items and few large items competing against the flow itself. The items are in context with wealth, reported.

The research article further explains as an economy develops the hierarchical difference in the distribution of wealth becomes more prominent and noticeable. It was also emphasized that complete eradication of this inequality is quite difficult, and it requires evolution of the "rule of law."

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