IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this book chapter

Inequality, Technology and the Social Contract

In: Handbook of Economic Growth

  • Benabou, Roland

The distribution of human capital and income lies at the center of a nexus of forces that shape a country's economic, institutional and technological structure. I develop here a unified model to analyze these interactions and their growth consequences. Five main issues are addressed. First, I identify the key factors that make both European-style "welfare state" and US-style "laissez-faire" social contracts sustainable; I also compare the growth rates of these two politico-economic steady states, which are not Pareto-rankable. Second, I examine how technological evolutions affect the set of redistributive institutions that can be durably sustained, showing in particular how skill-biased technical change may cause the welfare state to unravel. Third, I model the endogenous determination of technology or organizational form that results from firms' tailoring the flexibility of their production processes to the distribution of workers' skills. The greater is human capital heterogeneity, the more flexible and wage-disequalizing is the equilibrium technology. Moreover, firms' choices tend to generate excessive flexibility, resulting in suboptimal growth or even self-sustaining technology-inequality traps. Fourth, I examine how institutions also shape the course of technology; thus, a world-wide shift in the technology frontier results in different evolutions of production processes and skill premia across countries with different social contracts. Finally, I ask what joint configurations of technology, inequality and redistributive policy are feasible in the long run, when all three are endogenous. I show in particular how the diffusion of technology leads to the "exporting" of inequality across borders; and how this, in turn, generates spillovers between social contracts that make it more difficult for nations to maintain distinct institutions and social structures.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B7P5F-4HP4N1N-G/2/34b1c3fa603b4707f139552f9917428f
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

as
in new window

This chapter was published in:
  • Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), 2005. "Handbook of Economic Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1.
  • This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of Economic Growth with number 1-25.
    Handle: RePEc:eee:grochp:1-25
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookseriesdescription.cws_home/BS_HE/description

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Grossman, Gene & Maggi, Giovanni, 1998. "Diversity and Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 2005, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Per Krusell & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 1996. "Vested Interests in a Positive Theory of Stagnation and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 301-329.
    3. Freeman, Richard B, 1995. "The Large Welfare State as a System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 16-21, May.
    4. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2005. "Fairness and Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 960-980, September.
    5. Figini, P, 1999. "Inequality and Growth Revisited," Trinity Economics Papers 992, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    6. Galor, O. & Tsiddon, D., 1996. "Technological Progress, Mobility and Economic Growth," Papers 13-96, Tel Aviv.
    7. Romer, Paul M, 1987. "Growth Based on Increasing Returns Due to Specialization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 56-62, May.
    8. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809.
    9. Fernandez, Raquel & Rogerson, Richard, 1998. "Public Education and Income Distribution: A Dynamic Quantitative Evaluation of Education-Finance Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 813-33, September.
    10. Patrick Legros & Andrew Newman, 1996. "Wealth effects, distribution, and the theory of organization," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7036, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    11. Bourguignon, Francois & Verdier, Thierry, 2000. "Oligarchy, democracy, inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 285-313, August.
    12. Philippe Aghion, 2002. "Schumpeterian Growth Theory and the Dynamics of Income Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 855-882, May.
    13. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Aghion, Philippe, 2002. "Schumpeterian Growth Theory and the Dynamics of Income Inequality," Scholarly Articles 3350067, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    15. Kremer, M & Maskin, E, 1996. "Wage Inequality and Segregation by Skill," Working papers 96-23, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    16. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 1999. "From Physical to Human Capital Accumulation: Inequality in the Process of Development," Working Papers 99-27, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    17. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Lindbeck, A., 1994. "Welfare State Disincentives with Endogenous Habits and Norms," Papers 589, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
    19. Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Growth, Income Distribution, and Democracy: What the Data Say," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 149-87, June.
    20. Hassler, John & Mora, Jose & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2002. "The Survival of the Welfare State," Seminar Papers 704, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    21. Eli Berman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," NBER Working Papers 6166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. David Thesmar & Mathias Thoenig, 2000. "Creative Destruction and Firm Organization Choice," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00485579, HAL.
    23. Dilip Mookherjee & Debraj Ray, 2003. "Persistent Inequality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 369-393.
    24. Acemoglu, Daron & Aghion, Philippe & Violante, Giovanni L., 2001. "Deunionization, technical change and inequality," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 229-264, December.
    25. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2000. "Inequality and Growth: What Can the Data Say?," NBER Working Papers 7793, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    26. Kiley, Michael T, 1999. "The Supply of Skilled Labour and Skill-Biased Technological Progress," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(458), pages 708-24, October.
    27. Seshadri, Ananth & Yuki, Kazuhiro, 2004. "Equity and efficiency effects of redistributive policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(7), pages 1415-1447, October.
    28. Gilles Saint-Paul, 2001. "The Dynamics of Exclusion and Fiscal Conservatism," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(2), pages 275-302, April.
    29. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    30. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Labor market institutions and earnings inequality," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue May, pages 157-172.
    31. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    32. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Ability-Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 469-497.
    33. repec:fth:prinin:377 is not listed on IDEAS
    34. Huw Lloyd-Ellis, 1999. "Endogenous Technological Change and Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 47-77, March.
    35. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213.
    36. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    37. International Monetary Fund, 2003. "Income Inequality and Redistributive Government Spending," IMF Working Papers 03/14, International Monetary Fund.
    38. Acemoglu, D., 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," Working papers 97-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    39. Caroli, Eve & Van Reenen, John, 1999. "Skill biased organizational change? Evidence from a panel of British and French establishments," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9917, CEPREMAP.
    40. Saint-Paul, G. & Verdier, T., 1991. "Education, Democracy and growth," DELTA Working Papers 91-27, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
    41. Barro, Robert J, 2000. "Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
    42. Hassler, John & Rodriguez Mora, Jose V., 1999. "Employment turnover and the public allocation of unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 55-83, July.
    43. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Cross-Country Inequality Trends," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F121-F149, February.
    44. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B, 1992. "Public versus Private Investment in Human Capital Endogenous Growth and Income Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 818-34, August.
    45. Fellman, J, 1976. "The Effect of Transformations on Lorenz Curves," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 823-24, July.
    46. Michael Kremer & Eric Maskin, 1996. "Wage Inequality and Segregation," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1777, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    47. Kristin J. Forbes, 2000. "A Reassessment of the Relationship between Inequality and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 869-887, September.
    48. Kreps, David M & Porteus, Evan L, 1979. "Dynamic Choice Theory and Dynamic Programming," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 91-100, January.
    49. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 1998. "Ability Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1972, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    50. Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1997. "Institutional Changes and Rising Wage Inequality: Is There a Linkage?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 75-96, Spring.
    51. Mark Gradstein & Moshe Justman, . "Democratic Choice of an Education System: Implications for Growth and Income Distribution," CARESS Working Papres 97-05, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
    52. Gene M. Grossman, 2004. "The Distribution of Talent and the Pattern and Consequences of International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 209-239, February.
    53. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
    54. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
    55. Lee, Woojin & Roemer, John E, 1998. "Income Distribution, Redistributive Politics, and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 217-40, September.
    56. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't The US Have a European-Style Welfare State?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1933, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    57. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 843-67, June.
    58. Thomas Piketty, 1997. "The Dynamics of the Wealth Distribution and the Interest Rate with Credit Rationing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 173-189.
    59. Tamura, R., 1991. "Efficient Equilibrium Convergence : Heterogeneity and Growth," Working Papers 91-16, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
    60. Moav, Omer, 2002. "Income distribution and macroeconomics: the persistence of inequality in a convex technology framework," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 187-192, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:grochp:1-25. 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: (Shamier, Wendy)

    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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.