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Contractual Structure and Wealth Accumulation

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  • Dilip Mookherjee
  • Debraj Ray

Abstract

Can historical wealth distributions affect long-run output and inequality despite "rational" saving, convex technology and no externalities? We consider a model of equilibrium short-period financial contracts, where poor agents face credit constraints owing to moral hazard and limited liability. If agents have no bargaining power, poor agents have no incentive to save: poverty traps emerge and agents are polarized into two classes, with no interclass mobility. If instead agents have all the bargaining power, strong saving incentives are generated: the wealth of poor and rich agents alike drift upward indefinitely and "history" does not matter eventually. (D31, D91, I32, O17, Q15)

Suggested Citation

  • Dilip Mookherjee & Debraj Ray, 2002. "Contractual Structure and Wealth Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 818-849, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:92:y:2002:i:4:p:818-849
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/00028280260344489
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