Complexity in inequality

Usman Mirza

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


This thesis explores three interrelated research streams. First, I am interested in the very fundamental and ancient question about the functioning of our societies – why are some individuals or countries rich and others poor? Under this broad question, I aim to understand the drivers of inequality, that traverse the artificial boundaries between economic, social and natural sciences. Second, I study inequality, as being complex and governed by highly interconnected processes such as technology, globalization, trade and migration. These processes can be highly nonlinear causing cyclical behaviour and/or critical transitions such as tipping points. Third, using dynamic models and empirical data, I explain the flow of information between heterogeneous agents, including individuals, households or countries, and how these interactions define the emergent dynamics of inequality. Heterogeneous individuals interact not only inside economic systems but also across systems, such as with the environment and climate. Furthermore, these interactions are governed by formal and informal rules, such as institutions, social norms and agreements.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Scheffer, Marten, Promotor
  • van Nes, Egbert, Co-promotor
  • Richter, Andries, Co-promotor
Award date4 Feb 2020
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463951852
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2020


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