Wealth distribution in modern and medieval societies
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The power-law form of the upper part of the distribution of individual wealth/income (Pareto's law) is very well established for many countries and years. The Pareto index is however non-universal, varying typically from 1.5 to around 3. A recently introduced model for wealth exchange on an evolving family-network [Physica A 353, 515 (2005)] is reviewed and compared with empirical data. While the model mimics very well recent individual wealth data in a modern society (U.K.), it fails to explain results for a feudal society, based on the number of serf families owned by nobles (Hungary, mid XVI century). The unusually low (around 1) Pareto index found in this case is not compatible with the previous model. It is suggested that this fact may be interpreted as a result of the absence of active trading among agents.
KeywordsEuropean Physical Journal Special Topic Wealth Distribution Total Wealth Feudal Society Pareto Index
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