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Global inequality in energy consumption from 1980 to 2010

Scott Lawrence, Qin Liu and Victor Yakovenko ()

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Abstract: We study the global probability distribution of energy consumption per capita around the world using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) for 1980-2010. We find that the Lorenz curves have moved up during this time period, and the Gini coefficient G has decreased from 0.66 in 1980 to 0.55 in 2010, indicating a decrease in inequality. The global probability distribution of energy consumption per capita in 2010 is close to the exponential distribution with G=0.5. We attribute this result to the globalization of the world economy, which mixes the world and brings it closer to the state of maximal entropy. We argue that global energy production is a limited resource that is partitioned among the world population. The most probable partition is the one that maximizes entropy, thus resulting in the exponential distribution function. A consequence of the latter is the law of 1/3: the top 1/3 of the world population consumes 2/3 of produced energy. We also find similar results for the global probability distribution of CO2 emissions per capita.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ene
Date: 2013-12, Revised 2014-03
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Published in Entropy 15, 5565-5579 (2013)

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