Power accretion in social systems Articles uri icon

publication date

  • July 2019

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 11


  • 1, 012143


  • 100

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1539-3755

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1550-2376


  • We consider a model of power distribution in a social system where a set of agents plays a simple game on a graph: The probability of winning each round is proportional to the agent's current power, and the winner gets more power as a result. We show that when the agents are distributed on simple one-dimensional and two-dimensional networks, inequality grows naturally up to a certain stationary value characterized by a clear division between a higher and a lower class of agents. High class agents are separated by one or several lower class agents which serve as a geometrical barrier preventing further flow of power between them. Moreover, we consider the effect of redistributive mechanisms, such as proportional (nonprogressive) taxation. Sufficient taxation will induce a sharp transition towards a more equal society, and we argue that the critical taxation level is uniquely determined by the system geometry. Interestingly, we find that the roughness and Shannon entropy of the power distributions are a very useful complement to the standard measures of inequality, such as the Gini index and the Lorenz curve


  • roughness; economic games; social dynamics; information theory; pattern formation