Bas van Bavel and colleagues on Inequality in Nature and Society

Inequality is one of the main drivers of social tension. A recent publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows striking similarities between patterns of inequality between species abundances in nature and wealth in society.

Marten Scheffer, Bas van Bavel, Ingrid van de Leemput and Egbert van Nes demonstrate that in the absence of equalizing forces, such large inequality will arise from chance alone. While natural enemies have an equalizing effect in nature, inequality in societies can be suppressed by wealth-equalizing institutions. However, over the past millennium, such institutions have been weakened during periods of societal upscaling. Their analysis suggests that due to the very same mathematical principle that rules natural communities (indeed, a “law of nature”) extreme wealth inequality is inevitable in a globalizing world unless effective wealth-equalizing institutions are installed on a global scale. To read the article, click here.


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