Limited Attention and Income Distribution
AbstractEconomists have long been interested in the idea that there is a direct circular relation between poverty and low productivity, and not just one that is mediated by market failures, usually in asset markets. The nutrition-based efficiency wage model (Partha Dasgupta and Debraj Ray, 1987) is the canonical example of models where this happens: However it has been variously suggested (see for example T. N. Srinivasan, 1994) that the link from nutrition to productivity and especially the link from productivity to nutrition is too weak to be any more than a small part of the story. Partha Dasgupta himself acknowledges this when he writes "nutrition-productivity construct provides a metaphor,..., for ... an economic environment harboring poverty traps" (Partha Dasgupta, 1997, page 5). We propose an alternative approach to this question based on the idea that attention is a scarce resource that is important for productivity. Specifically, people may not be able to fully attend to their jobs if they are also worrying about problems at home and being distracted in this way reduces productivity. But not paying attention at home is also costly: early symptoms of a child's sickness may go unnoticed; water may run out at the end of the day; kerosene for lighting lamps at home might run out and make it hard to do homework; etc. Finally, the extent to which home life distracts depends on the nature of home life. Specifically, certain goods (e.g. a good baby sitter, a 24-hour piped water supply, a connection to a power supply grid) can reduce the extent of home life distraction. These three assumptions generate an interesting relation between income and productivity that is at the core of our model. The non-poor in this model, by virtue of owning distraction-saving goods and services at home, are able to focus more on their work. Hence they will be more productive at work and will be able to afford more distraction-saving goods. This simple two-way relationship between in
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.
Volume (Year): 98 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Other versions of this item:
- D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
- D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
- I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Banerjee, Abhijit & Duflo, Esther, 2007.
"What is Middle Class about the Middle Classes Around the World?,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
6613, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2008. "What Is Middle Class about the Middle Classes around the World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 3-28, Spring.
- Esther Duflo & Abhijit Banerjee, 2008. "What is Middle Class About the Middle Classes Around the World?," Working Papers id:1363, eSocialSciences.
- Dasgupta, Partha, 1997. "Nutritional status, the capacity for work, and poverty traps," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 5-37, March.
- T. N. Srinivasan, 1994. "Destitution: A Discourse," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1842-1855, December.
- Oswald, Andrew & Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2013.
"Happiness and Productivity,"
CAGE Online Working Paper Series
107, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
- Oswald, Andrew J. & Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2009. "Happiness and Productivity," IZA Discussion Papers 4645, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Oswald, Andrew J. & Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2008. "Happiness and Productivity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 882, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- Omer Moav and & Zvika Neeman, 2012. "Saving Rates and Poverty: The Role of Conspicuous Consumption and Human Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(563), pages 933-956, 09.
- Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo & Rachel Glennerster, 2011. "Is Decentralized Iron Fortification a Feasible Option to Fight Anemia Among the Poorest?," NBER Chapters, in: Explorations in the Economics of Aging, pages 317-344 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.