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Forward and Backward Intergenerational Goods: A Theory of Intergenerational Exchange

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  • Antonio Rangel

Abstract

This paper develops a theory of intergenerational exchange for generations that are either selfish or have non-dynastic altruism. The main building blocks of the theory are forward and backward intergenerational goods (FIGs and BIGs) and the relationship between them. A FIG is a transfer from present to future generations, like parental investments in education and the preservation of the environment. A BIG is a transfer from future to present generations, like pay-as -you-go social security or taking care of elderly parents. We show that there is a fundamental difference between BIGs and FIGs. BIGs generating a positive surplus are self-sustainable, but FIGs never are. However, even with selfish generations, optimal investment in future generations can take place if the equilibrium social norm links BIGs and FIGs. The tools developed here can be used to understand a wide class of intergenerational problems, from the political economy of environmental treaties to the economics of seniority institutions. Two applications are developed in the paper: (1) the political economy of intergenerational public expenditures, and (2) investment in children within the family.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7518.

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Date of creation: Feb 2000
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Publication status: published as Rangel, Antonio. "Forward And Backward Intergenerational Goods: Why Is Social Security Good For The Environment?," American Economic Review, 2003, v93(3,Jun), 813-824.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7518

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Cited by:
  1. Panu Poutvaara, 2003. "On the Political Economy of Social Security and Public Education," Public Economics 0303001, EconWPA.
  2. Michele Boldrin & Ana Montes, 2005. "The Intergenerational State Education and Pensions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 651-664.
  3. Findeis, Jill L., 2002. "Subjective Equilibrium Theory of the Farm Household: Theory Revisited and New Directions," Workshop on the Farm Household-Firm Unit: Its Importance in Agriculture and Implications for Statistics, April 12-13, 2002, Wye Campus,Imperial College 15723, International Agricultural Policy Reform and Adjustment Project (IAPRAP).
  4. Banerjee, Abhijit V., 2004. "Educational policy and the economics of the family," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 3-32, June.
  5. Panu Poutvaara, 2001. "Gerontocracy Revisited. Unilateral Transfer to the Young May Benefit the Middle-Aged," CESifo Working Paper Series 500, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Antoine Bommier & Ronald Lee & Tim Miller & St├ęphane Zuber, 2010. "Who Wins and Who Loses? Public Transfer Accounts for US Generations Born 1850 to 2090," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 36(1), pages 1-26.
  7. Andreas Wagener, 2002. "Intergenerational Transfer Schemes as Incomplete Social Contracts," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 337-359, December.
  8. Abhijit Banerjee, 2007. "Educational Policy and the Economics of the Family," Working Papers id:1186, eSocialSciences.

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