IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Income Distribution and the Occupational Choices of Entrepreneurs


  • Schwenkenberg Julia M.

    () (Department of Economics, Rutgers University – Newark, 360 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Newark, NJ 07102, USA)


This article presents a model that analyzes the effects of redistribution on the occupational choices of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs can either engage in costly search for projects and produce or become rent-seekers who collect rents for reversing redistribution. The model illustrates that redistribution of aggregate output is possible until a tipping point is reached. Higher levels of redistribution decrease entrepreneurship, employment, and aggregate income. Which level of redistribution is too much depends on the degree of inequality inherent in the firm quality distribution and on the power of rent-seekers to alter redistributive outcomes. An exogenous increase in the ratio of average realized output to output produced at the lowest-productivity firm reduces the gains from entrepreneurship relative to rent-seeking. This happens because entrepreneurs expend search costs to find those high-quality projects that drive up the average production value, but only a few entrepreneurs can realize these big hits. Wages and rent-seeker pay-offs, on the other hand, depend on average realized production. An increase in the power of rent-seekers further reduces the government’s options. The model implies that the government’s ability to redistribute might be declining when inequality rises.

Suggested Citation

  • Schwenkenberg Julia M., 2013. "Income Distribution and the Occupational Choices of Entrepreneurs," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 55-80, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:14:y:2013:i:1:p:55-80:n:3

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Macchiavello, Rocco, 2008. "Public sector motivation and development failures," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 201-213, April.
    2. Easterly, William & Reshef, Ariell & Schwenkenberg, Julia, 2009. "The power of exports," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5081, The World Bank.
    3. Jaimovich, Esteban & Rud, Juan Pablo, 2014. "Excessive public employment and rent-seeking traps," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 144-155.
    4. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:14:y:2013:i:1:p:55-80:n:3. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Golla). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.