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Talk - The Dynamics of Wealth: Understanding the Origins of Inequality, from Poverty to Oligarchy, AUA

Publish Date: Sep 08, 2015

In 2010, there were 388 billionaires in the world whose combined wealth was equal to that of half the human race (about 3.6 billion people). In the five years since, the number of billionaires necessary to match the wealth of half the human race has dropped from 388 to 86. It is projected that by 2016, the top 1% of wealth holders worldwide will have as much wealth as the bottom 99%. In addition to presenting the starkness of existing wealth disparities, these statistics make it clear that the situation is very dynamic, and the need to understand this dynamic has never been greater.
Is there a simple way to understand how wealth distributes itself in a population, and exactly how that distribution changes in time? Recent work on a class of economic models called “asset-exchange models” indicates that there is. Motivated by ideas in statistical mechanics, asset-exchange models are remarkably simple statistical models of transacting economic agents that have already explained certain empirical features of wealth distributions that have resisted fundamental understanding for over a century.

This talk will give an elementary (mostly non-mathematical) description of asset-exchange models, along with some of their more controversial predictions.  One of these predictions is the idea that, without redistribution and regulation, market economies would not be stable.  Another is the observation that oligarchies are characterized by sharp structural differences in wealth distribution, which can be precipitated by advantages favoring wealthier agents at the transaction level.

Dr. Bruce Boghosian is Professor of Mathematics at Tufts University, where he also serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Computer Science and Physics.  He is a recipient of Tufts University’s Distinguished Scholar Award, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia.

Dr. Boghosian was appointed president of AUA in 2010 as the university’s first resident president.  Under his leadership, the university underwent very rapid expansion and became more integrated into the landscape of Armenian higher education.  Most notably, the university successfully launched the undergraduate program in 2013, doubling student enrollment and setting it on a course to double again by 2016.  During Dr. Boghosian’s tenure, the university’s Extension program also underwent rapid expansion, including the opening of new and modern classroom facilities in Gyumri, Dilijan, and Stepanakert.

In recognition of his role as AUA president, Dr. Boghosian is a recipient of the “Order of the Republic of Armenia,” presented by the Prime Minister, and the “Gold Medal,” presented by the Minister of Education and Science.

Dr. Boghosian received his bachelor’s degree in physics, and master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his doctorate in applied science from the University of California, Davis.  He has taught as a visiting professor in many universities around the globe, including Peking University in Beijing, China; the École Normale Supérieure in Paris; and the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy.  He is a member of numerous editorial boards.

This event is in English.  Simultaneous interpretation into Armenian will be provided.

This event is open to public.

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