Samstag, 6. Mrz 2010
Fighting Zipf
Inequality is one of the major problems that society, civilization, and humankind is facing. By this I mean income and wealth being inhomogeneously distributed among people. Wealth is concentrated on very few people while the big majority is much less wealthy. It is important to mention that wealth also correlates with other factors like education and health. Uneven distribution is found on all scales, such as for the employees of a company, the inhabitants of a city, or the people of a country. Also among the countries such heterogeneity exists. Empirically, this finding was first described by Vilfredo Pareto already in the 19th century. The so called Pareto distribution is directly connected to the Gini coefficient which was designed by Corrado Gini in the beginning of the 20th century to measure the statistical dispersion of income and wealth. Zipf-law is a special case of the Pareto distribution.
To make a long story short, the point is that these kind of skewed distributions with very few large values are frequent in nature, technology, and society. They are said to be emergent. From a scientific point of view, one is still at the beginning to understand the processes leading to such inhomogeneous distributions. I would like to point out that task should not only be to understand but also to come up with mechanism to reduce or even avoid Pareto distributions in order to approach a more homogeneous and fair world.