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Societies Heading for Collapse Says Study


There’s a common thread tying together the most disruptive revolutions of human history, and it has some scientists worried about the United States. In those revolutions, conflict largely boiled down to pervasive economic inequality. On Wednesday, a study in Nature, showing how and when those first divisions between rich and poor began, suggests not only that history has always repeated itself but also that it’s bound to do so again — and perhaps sooner than we think.

In the largest study of its kind, a team of scientists from Washington State University and 13 other institutions examined the factors leading to economic inequality throughout all of human history and noticed some worrying trends. Using a well-established score of inequality called the Gini coefficient, which gives perfect, egalitarian societies a score of 0 and high-inequality societies a 1, they showed that civilization tends to move toward inequality as some people gain the means to make others relatively poor — and employ it. Coupled with what researchers already know about inequality leading to social instability, the study does not bode well for the state of the world today.

“We could be concerned in the United States, that if Ginis get too high, we could be inviting revolution, or we could be inviting state collapse. There’s only a few things that are going to decrease our Ginis dramatically,” said Tim Kohler, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and a professor of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology in a statement.

Currently, the United States Gini score is around .81, one of the highest in the world, according to the 2016 Allianz Global Wealth Report.

The Holme
A recent Credit Suisse report shows that the richest 1 percent of humanity owns half the world’s wealth.Flickr / garryknight

Kohler and his team had their work cut out for them, as studying inequality before the age of global wealth reports is not a straightforward task. It’s one thing to measure modern day economic inequality using measures of individual net worth, but those kind of metrics aren’t available for, say, hunter-gatherers chasing buffalo during the Paleolithic. To surmount this obstacle, the researchers decided to use house size as a catch-all proxy for wealth, then examined the makeup of societies from prehistoric times to modern day using data from 63 archaeological digs.

Overall, they found that human societies started off fairly equal, with the hunter-gatherer societies consistently getting Gini scores around .17. The divide between rich and poor really began once humans started to domesticate plants and animals and switch to farming-based societies. Learning to till the land meant introducing the concept of land ownership, and inevitably, some people ended up as landless peasants. Furthermore, because these societies no longer lived as nomads, it became easier to accumulate wealth (like land) and pass it down from generation to generation.

The Gini scores got higher as farming societies got bigger. The small scale “horticultural” farmers had a median Gini of .27, and larger-scale “agricultural” societies moved up to .35. This pattern continued until, oddly, humans moved into the New World — the Americas. Then, over time, the researchers saw that Gini scores kept rising in Old World Eurasia but actually hit a plateau in the Americas. The researchers think this plateau happened because there were fewer draft animals, like horse and water buffalo, in the New World, making it harder for new agricultural societies to expand and cultivate more land.

A selection of Gini scores from the 2016 Allianz Global Report are shown in red. A score of 1 is given to societies with the highest inequality.

Overall, the highest-ever historical Gini the researchers found was that of the ancient Old World (think Patrician Rome), which got a score of .59. While the degrees of inequality experienced by historical societies are quite high, the researchers note, they’re nowhere near as high as the Gini scores we’re seeing now.

“Even given the possibility that the Ginis constructed here may somewhat underestimate true household wealth disparities, it is safe to say that the degree of wealth inequality experienced by many households today is considerably higher than has been the norm over the last ten millennia,” the researchers write in their paper.

On Monday, a global report from Credit Suisse showed that modern humans are continuing the trends set by our predecessors: Now, the report showed, half of the world’s wealth really does belong to a super-rich one percent, and the gap is only growing. Historically, Kohler says in his statement, there’s only so much inequality a society can sustain before it reaches a tipping point. Among the many known effects of inequality on a society are social unrest, a decrease in health, increased violence, and decreased solidarity. Unfortunately, Kohler points out, humans have never been especially good at decreasing inequality peacefully — historically, the only effective methods for doing so are plague, massive warfare, or revolution.

24 Comments on "Societies Heading for Collapse Says Study"

  1. Sissyfuss on Tue, 4th Feb 2020 8:08 am 

    The Gini is already out of the bottle with the Trumpster fire ablaze. It’s up to the militarized police force to keep the peace by busting heads. And be sure to accessorize your yellow vest with an all encompassing facial mask. You never know what’s trending during the riots.

  2. peakyeast on Tue, 4th Feb 2020 9:29 am 

    One great solution to levelling the gini coefficient is killing off all the poor, sick, stupid, and otherwise genetically inferior.

    I wonder when this proven method of bettering the genepool went unpopular? It certainly is popular amongst humans towards all other species.

  3. JuanP on Tue, 4th Feb 2020 10:39 am 

    I was born and raised in a society with one of the lowest Gini scores in the world, but even Uruguay has been getting worse for over half a century. I’ve witnessed inequality in the USA which is, IMO, immoral and counterproductive. It’s been getting worse for decades, too. The trend is extremely clear. As long as we have food and electricity to run TVs, smartphones. PCs, tablets, and video game consoles we’ll be fine. But if the younger generations lose access to games, porn, and social media there will be a revolution in no time. It could happen at any time. For now they are all very busy watching movies, playing games, talking shit, and jerking off. They are without a doubt the most useless generations our species ever produced. They are soooooo fucked in the long run! I am so proud that I got a Vasectomy and did not produce biological offspring! Talk about being smart! ROFLMFAO! Go breed some more, retards!

  4. makati1 on Tue, 4th Feb 2020 6:09 pm 

    “… the most useless generations our species ever produced.”

    Absolutely correct, JuanP. I see it in my own grand kids. If the electric went off, no internet, cell phones, etc. there would be hell on earth. But then, their parents are not prepared for such an event either. EMP anyone?

  5. Davy on Tue, 4th Feb 2020 6:20 pm 

    “… the most useless generations our species ever produced.” Absolutely correct, JuanP. I see it in my own grand kids.”

    It is your generation that ruined the world makato. You should be ashamed of yourself. In fact you should be punished. JuanP is dickhead and nothing he says means squat. He is a lunatic that talked about muzzie bag day and you still interact with him. Maybe you are just as mentally challenged.

  6. More from the Lunatic on Tue, 4th Feb 2020 7:20 pm 

    Davy on Tue, 4th Feb 2020 6:20 pm

  7. Abraham van Helsing on Wed, 5th Feb 2020 3:51 pm 

    Massive decrease emissions in the EU in 2019:

    “Greenhouse gas emissions from the European Union’s electricity sector fell 12% last year, the sharpest drop since at least 1990, due to reduced coal-fired generation, a study has found.

    Emissions fell by 120 million tonnes in 2019, largely due to a sharp decrease in generation from hard coal and lignite-fired power plants which fell by 24% across the EU, German policy institute Agora Energiewende and climate think-tank Sandbag said in a report released on Wednesday.”

    2020 could very well become a “lost year” for the global economy, which is good for further reducing emissions.

  8. Abraham van Helsing on Thu, 6th Feb 2020 7:53 am 

    How to build a 1.5 GW offshore wind park in a matter of a few months (after two years of preparation):

    Borssele III & IV probably most monopiles installed already:

    Cables installed:

    Borssele I & II:

    So how much time does it take to plan and build a nuclear reactor? In the old careless days: 7.5 years on average. Today it is much more:

    Offshore wind: 3 years.

  9. Abraham van Helsing on Thu, 6th Feb 2020 7:59 am 

    Once the monopiles have been rammed in the seabed, so-called transition pieces are placed on top of them. The Borssele ones are already patiently waiting in Rotterdam Harbor:

    The towers will be placed on the transition pieces and nacelles on top of the towers.

    The entire installation process here:

    Van Oord, Vestas, Sif, Siemens… the next Seven Brothers that are to replace the Seven Sisters oil companies like Shell, Exxon, BP, etc.

    Sorry bout that. European Century thingy.

  10. Abraham van Helsing on Thu, 6th Feb 2020 8:18 am 

    How the transition works without a dime of tax payer money:

    The offshore wind parks are currently build for 100% with money from capital markets. Next the owner of the park sells kWh’s to interested parties, like in this PPA example (power purchase agreement).

    All the government needs to do is give a piece of North-sea to the highest bidder for 30 years, like van Oord, Vattenfal, Shell, etc., with the guarantee that the owner may freely sell electricity on the Dutch and other European markets. Perhaps wind park owners can even outsource storage to companies that consume the electricity.

    For the rest, the government may lean back and tell everybody who wants to hear how green they are.

    Easy does it.

    The North-sea, Baltic and Irish Sea (together 600,000 km2 of shallow water suitable for monopiles, an area larger than France) is big enough to power source everybody and his mother 5 times over.

    Isn’t different with solar. All the government needs to do is to tell its citizens: “hey suckers, finally install these solar panels on your roof if you want to have access to electricity in the future, b’cause we are closing down old school fossil fuel power plants, Paris Accords thingy. All we’ll do is ensure that storage is available, but that is about it”.

    Perhaps in slightly different wording, but that’s the gist.

  11. ANSL REAPER on Thu, 6th Feb 2020 8:39 am 

    I wish the following for my little big brother joe and supertard rock:

    Happy world grater supremacist muzzies bag day feb12021

    Happy world grater nedertardland day 65 days away

    This is my standing testament of my life

  12. ANSL REAPER on Thu, 6th Feb 2020 8:40 am 

    Abraham van Helsing on Thu, 6th Feb 2020 8:18 am
    Above supertard obv.

  13. ANSL REAPER on Thu, 6th Feb 2020 8:51 am 

    Muzzie attack two Chinese nationals in the Maldives

    China amputated all muzzies
    Give them beervirus

    World supremacist muzzies bag day feb12021

  14. cloggie on Thu, 6th Feb 2020 8:53 am 

    Muzzie attack Chinese citing muzzies doctrine and are muzzies but no muzzies
    Head spun

  15. Abraham van Helsing on Thu, 6th Feb 2020 1:13 pm 

    No surprises here:

    “Billionaire pro-Israel Buttigieg backer Seth Klarman funds group behind Iowa’s disastrous voting app”


    It’s official: ISIS=Israel/USA

    “Ex-Israeli Army Chief Admits to Arming Syrian Rebels”

    No surprise for everybody who paid attention since 2011 regarding Syria.

  16. Abraham van Helsing on Thu, 6th Feb 2020 1:16 pm 

    “Hillary Clinton absolutely destroyed Bernie Sanders in her Howard Stern interview”

    Hillary is really deep state, Bernie on contrast may be jewish, but he is a renegade. The German news denounced him yesterday as well. That’s all you need to know.

  17. Duncan Idaho on Thu, 6th Feb 2020 1:26 pm 

    Hillary is really deep state
    The Dim elite would rather have the Fat Boy (Trump) than Sanders.
    Have almost identical financial interest and strategy.

  18. Abraham van Helsing on Fri, 7th Feb 2020 3:15 am 

    “The Dim elite would rather have the Fat Boy (Trump) than Sanders.”

    No. The Dems hate both Trump and Sanders, but they hate Trump the most.

  19. Abraham van Helsing on Fri, 7th Feb 2020 3:06 pm 

    Macron elaborates on his French and European defense and nuclear strategy:

    – EU contributes to French nuclear strike force, in return for French guarantees.
    – France remains the nuclear decider of last resort.
    – No break with America
    – Restore trust with Russia
    – No end of British-French Entente Cordiale (1904)

    All the right noises.
    Germany rules economy, France dominates EU foreign policy and nukes. Good for the balance in Europe.

    Now wait until the ticking US time bomb goes off.

  20. Richard Guenette on Sun, 9th Feb 2020 2:00 pm 

    Gaia is a juanPee whore fake and fraud

  21. Gaia on Sun, 9th Feb 2020 2:01 pm 

    I often feel suicidal

  22. Gaia on Sun, 9th Feb 2020 2:11 pm 

    Renewable energy should be free of charge and not for profit.

  23. Gaia on Sun, 9th Feb 2020 2:14 pm 

    I am a hypocrite

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