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Entropy and Wealth

Department of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, School of Civil Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, 15780 Athens, Greece
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Entropy 2021, 23(10), 1356; https://doi.org/10.3390/e23101356
Received: 17 August 2021 / Revised: 27 September 2021 / Accepted: 12 October 2021 / Published: 17 October 2021
While entropy was introduced in the second half of the 19th century in the international vocabulary as a scientific term, in the 20th century it became common in colloquial use. Popular imagination has loaded “entropy” with almost every negative quality in the universe, in life and in society, with a dominant meaning of disorder and disorganization. Exploring the history of the term and many different approaches to it, we show that entropy has a universal stochastic definition, which is not disorder. Hence, we contend that entropy should be used as a mathematical (stochastic) concept as rigorously as possible, free of metaphoric meanings. The accompanying principle of maximum entropy, which lies behind the Second Law, gives explanatory and inferential power to the concept, and promotes entropy as the mother of creativity and evolution. As the social sciences are often contaminated by subjectivity and ideological influences, we try to explore whether maximum entropy, applied to the distribution of a wealth-related variable, namely annual income, can give an objective description. Using publicly available income data, we show that income distribution is consistent with the principle of maximum entropy. The increase in entropy is associated to increases in society’s wealth, yet a standardized form of entropy can be used to quantify inequality. Historically, technology has played a major role in the development of and increase in the entropy of income. Such findings are contrary to the theory of ecological economics and other theories that use the term entropy in a Malthusian perspective. View Full-Text
Keywords: entropy; wealth; income distribution; options; potentiality; principle of maximum entropy; Second Law; stochastics entropy; wealth; income distribution; options; potentiality; principle of maximum entropy; Second Law; stochastics
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MDPI and ACS Style

Koutsoyiannis, D.; Sargentis, G.-F. Entropy and Wealth. Entropy 2021, 23, 1356. https://doi.org/10.3390/e23101356

AMA Style

Koutsoyiannis D, Sargentis G-F. Entropy and Wealth. Entropy. 2021; 23(10):1356. https://doi.org/10.3390/e23101356

Chicago/Turabian Style

Koutsoyiannis, Demetris, and G.-Fivos Sargentis. 2021. "Entropy and Wealth" Entropy 23, no. 10: 1356. https://doi.org/10.3390/e23101356

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