Matthew effect

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Matthew effect of accumulated advantage, Matthew principle, or Matthew effect is the tendency of individuals to accrue social or economic success in proportion to their initial level of popularity, friends, and wealth. It is sometimes summarized by the adage "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer".[1][2] The term was coined by sociologists Robert K. Merton and Harriet Zuckerman[3] in 1968[4] and takes its name from the Parable of the Talents in the biblical Gospel of Matthew.

The Matthew effect may largely be explained by preferential attachment, whereby wealth or credit is distributed among individuals according to how much they already have. This has the net effect of making it increasingly difficult for low ranked individuals to increase their totals because they have fewer resources to risk over time, and increasingly easy for high rank individuals to preserve a large total because they have a large amount to risk.[5]

Early studies of Matthew effects were primarily concerned with the inequality in the way scientists were recognized for their work. However, Norman W. Storer, of Columbia University, led a new wave of research. He believed he discovered that the inequality that existed in the social sciences also existed in other institutions.[6]