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Wealth Inequality, Wealth Constraints and Economic Performance

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  • Bardhan, Pranab
  • Bowles, Samuel
  • Gintis, Herbert

Abstract

When asymmetry or non-verifiability of information, or non-excludability of users, makes contracts incomplete or unenforceable, and where for these and other reasons there are impediments to efficient bargaining, we show that private contracting will not generally assign the control of assets and the residual claimancy over income streams of projects to achieve socially efficient outcomes, suggesting that the policy relevance of the widely accepted "efficiency-equity tradeoff" should be seriously reconsidered. We illustrate these ideas with reference to misallocations in land, labor and credit markets. We also explore the consequences of redistributive policies for risk-taking and risk exposure when non-wealthy agents are risk-averse and for resolving collective action problems inherent in the provision of local public goods in the context of commons.

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  • Bardhan, Pranab & Bowles, Samuel & Gintis, Herbert, 1999. "Wealth Inequality, Wealth Constraints and Economic Performance," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3bh899fh, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt3bh899fh
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    Keywords

    inequality; agency problems; cooperation; team production; risk-aversion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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