Pareto pyramid and Lazy ant study diagram
Diagram to Libb Thims’ 2017 Quora answer (Ѻ) to query “why do wealth families hardly last more than three generations?”, showing the Pareto principle based “Pareto pyramid social spinning top” (1902) and the “lazy ant study” (c.1985).
In terminology, wealth refers to a material possession, resource, or property that has value or an exchange value. [1]

In 1896 and 1902, Vilfredo Pareto explained the flow of wealth in society in human molecular theory terms.

In 1926, American physical chemist Frederick Soddy defined economics, in a national sense, as that "concerned with wealth as what is produced by human beings in order to maintain their lives". Moreover, he argued that wealth, in contrast to debt, is subject to the laws of thermodynamics. In particular, according to Soddy: [2]

“Debts are subject to the laws of mathematics rather than physics. Unlike wealth, which is subject to the laws of thermodynamics, debts do not rot with old age and are not consumed in the process of living. On the contrary, they grow at so much per cent per annum, by the well-known mathematical laws of simple and compound interest.”

In commentary on Soddy’s thermodynamic wealth ideas, American ecological economist Herman Daly states that while debt can grow at compound interest forever, real physical wealth cannot continue to grow at the same speed “because its physical dimension is subject to the destructive force of entropy”. [3]

The following are related quotes:

Wealth, as Hobbes says, is power.”
— Adam Smith (1776), Wealth of Nations (pg. 13)

See also
Wealth, Energy, and Human Values

1. Wealth (definition) – Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2000, CD-ROM, version 2.5.
2. (a) Soddy, F. (1926). Virtual Wealth and Debt - the Solution of the Economic Paradox, (pgs. 70-73). London: George Allen & Unwin LTD. (318 pages).
(b) Hattersley, Martin J. (1988). "Soddy and the Doctrine of Virtual Wealth", A paper presented to the 14th Annual Convention of the Eastern Economics Association Boston.
3. Daly, Herman. (1980). “The Economic Thought of Frederick Soddy”, in History of Political Economy, vol. 12, no. 4,pgs. 469-88, Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

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