Friday, November 9, 2007

Future Income Inequality

Income inequality has two distinguishing characteristics which make it something worth avoiding. First, it is somewhat like an attenuated mirror image of ideality (quality of life): When ideality is low inequality is high, and vice versa. Second, inequality nearly parallels death rate, with both high at the same time and low at the same time.

It is therefore no surprise that my consumption model’s projection of population collapse is accompanied by a dramatic (if brief) increase in income inequality. For those who might hope to survive such a collapse, there is the morbid possibility of owning a majority of the scraps left in a severely damaged world.

If we reduced consumption by one percent per year starting now, the population would peak in 2024 and fall to zero by 2162. During most of that period, population would be falling at about the rate it is currently climbing, while ideality and income inequality stayed fairly close to their present values. At any faster rate of conservation, income inequality would dip briefly and then surge to its historical maximum as ideality fell gradually and population leveled off.

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