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The poor, the rich and the enforcer: institutional choice and growth

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  • Erwan Quintin
  • Thorsten Koeppl
  • Cyril Monnet

Abstract

We study economies where improving the quality of institutions – modeled as improving contract enforcement – requires resources, but enables trade that raises output by reducing the dispersion of marginal products of capital. We find that in this type of environment it is optimal to combine institutional building with endowment redistribution, and that more ex-ante dispersion in marginal products increases the incentives to invest in enforcement. In addition, we show that institutional investments lead over time to a progressive reduction in inequality. Finally, the framework we describe enables us to formalize the hypothesis formulated by Engerman and Sokoloff (2002) that the initial concentration of human and physical capital can explain the divergence of different countries’ institutional history.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in its series Working Papers with number 0801.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:feddwp:0801

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Keywords: Human capital ; Macroeconomics;

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  1. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development among New World Economies," JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
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  12. Koeppl, Thorsten V., 2007. "Optimal dynamic risk sharing when enforcement is a decision variable," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 34-60, May.
  13. Easterly, William, 2007. "Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 755-776, November.
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  17. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A., 2005. "Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 385-472 Elsevier.
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