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Education, political instability, and growth

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  • James A. Kahn

Abstract

Empirical evidence suggests a positive association between income levels and growth rates on the one hand, and political stability and educational attainment on the other. This paper develops a simple finite--horizon overlapping growth model that in the absence of institutions for precommitment has a political equilibrium with inefficiently low growth, low educational attainment, and high returns to schooling. In the model, the laissez-faire growth rate is inefficient due to an intergenerational externality in the decision to accumulate knowledge. We then contrast the efficient growth rate with the outcome when there is a sequence of governments with an objective that reflects the preferences of the individuals currently alive. The result is an equilibrium in which growth remains inefficiently low because future agents are unable to reward those currently alive to induce them to accumulate knowledge. The ability to achieve higher efficient growth hinges on either the government's ability to set policies that cannot be undone by subsequent governments, or on an alternative ``trigger strategy'' equilibrium in which each government believes it will be punished by the next if it deviates from the optimal policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Research Paper with number 9737.

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Date of creation: 1997
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednrp:9737

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Keywords: Economic development ; Income ; Political science ; Education;

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  1. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  2. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Persson, Torsten & Svensson, Lars E O, 1988. "Social Contracts as Assets: A Possible Solution to the Time-Consistency Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 662-77, September.
  3. Persson, Mats & Persson, Torsten & Svensson, Lars E O, 1987. "Time Consistency of Fiscal and Monetary Policy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1419-31, November.
  4. Azariadis, Costas & Drazen, Allan, 1990. "Threshold Externalities in Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 501-26, May.
  5. James A Kahn & Jong-Soo Lim, 2001. "Finite Horizons, Political Economy, and Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(1), pages 1-25, January.
  6. Ljungqvist, L., 1992. "Economic Development, Wage Structure and Implicit Insurance on Human Capital," Papers 512, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  7. Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1989. "A Political Theory of Government Debt and Deficits in a Neo-Ricardian Framework," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 713-32, September.
  8. Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467.
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Cited by:
  1. Kahn, J.A. & Lim, J.S., 1996. "Finite Horizons, Political Economy, and Growth," RCER Working Papers 433, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).

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