DISTRIBUTION (Lat. distrin g ere, to deal out), a term used in various connexions with the general meaning of spreading out. In law, the word is used for the division of the personal estate of an intestate among the next-of-kin (see Intestacy). The important scientific question as to the distribution of plants and animals on the earth is treated under Plants: Distribution, and Zoological Distribution. In economics the word is used generally for the transference of commodities from person to person or from place to place, or the dividing up of large quantities of commodities into smaller quantities; and in a more technical sense, for the division of the product of industry amongst the various members or classes of the community. The theory of economic distribution, i.e. the causes which determine rent, wages, profits and interest, forms an important subject-matter in all text-books. Among recent works, see E. Cannan's History of Theories of Production and Distribution, 1776-1848 (1893), J. R. Common's Distribution of Wealth (1893), and H. J. Davenport's Value and Distribution (Chicago, 1908).
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