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Intergenerational Debt Dynamics Without Tears

Author

Listed:
  • Torben Andersen

    (University of Aarhus)

  • Joydeep Bhattacharya

    (Iowa State University)

Abstract

Governments, motivated by a desire to improve upon long-run laissez faire, routinely undertake enduring, productive expenditures, say, in public education, that generate positive externalities across cohorts but require investments be made up front. If everyone after the policy is initiated is at least as happy as before and there are some outstanding resources, the Hicks-Kaldor efficiency rule suggests that the present value of these resources could, hypothetically, be distributed to future generations creating the potential for generational Pareto improvement. The literature recognizes the challenge in constructing a policy that is actually Pareto-improving since the policy itself may generate general-equilibrium gains and losses spread across generations. The paper takes on this task. In a dynamically-efficient economy with an intergenerational human capital externality, it constructs an equilibrium path with public education financed by non-explosive debt and taxes that truly improves upon laissez faire, yet no generation is harmed along the transition, not even the current ones. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Torben Andersen & Joydeep Bhattacharya, 2020. "Intergenerational Debt Dynamics Without Tears," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 35, pages 192-219, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:18-234
    DOI: 10.1016/j.red.2019.06.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Pareto improvements; Hicks-Kaldor criterion; Transitional dynamics; Public debt; Public education; Overlapping-generations models;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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