The political economy of intergenerational cooperation
This chapter examines the scope for mutually beneficial intergenerational cooperation, and looks at various attempts to theoretically explain the emergence of norms and institutions that facilitate this cooperation. The contributions reviewed come from branches of economics as far apart as household economics and political economy, and encompass both the normative and the positive branch of public economics. Section 2 establishes a normative framework. Sections 3 and 4 examine the properties of the laissez-faire solution in a pure market economy, and in one where reproductive decisions and intra-family transfers are constrained by self-enforcing family constitutions. Section 5 introduces the state, and shows that first and second-best policy include a pension and a child benefit scheme. Section 6 rexamines the same issues in the presence of educational investment. Section 7 introduces uncertainty and asymmetrical information, and shows that second-best public transfers to families are conditional on number of children, and on some measure of the children's success in adult life. Section 8 looks at the possibility that intergenerational redistribution might be supported by some kind of political equilibrium. One type of model looks at the possibility of a self-enforcing constitution governing intergenerational transfers at societal rather than family level. Another type of model looks for voting equilibria in direct, and in representative democracies.
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