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Roads to Equality: Wealth Distribution Dynamics with Public-Private Capital Complementarity


  • Francisco H.G. Ferreira


This paper proposes a model of wealth distribution dynamics with a capital market imperfection and a production function where public capital is complementary to private capital. A unique invariant steady-state distribution is derived, with three social classes: subsistence workers, 'government dependent' middle-class entrepreneurs and 'private infrastructure owning' upper-class entrepreneurs. It is shown that there is a minimum level of public investment below which the middle class disappears, and that increases in non-targeted public investment over some range lead to unambiguously less inequality of opportunity, as well as to greater output. This provides an additional rationale for an active role for the government in infrastructure, health and education provision, and has implications for foreign aid.

Suggested Citation

  • Francisco H.G. Ferreira, 1995. "Roads to Equality: Wealth Distribution Dynamics with Public-Private Capital Complementarity," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series 286, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:stitep:286

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    2. J. Michael Harrison & Michael I. Taksar, 1983. "Instantaneous Control of Brownian Motion," Mathematics of Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 8(3), pages 439-453, August.
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    8. Pindyck, Robert S, 1988. "Irreversible Investment, Capacity Choice, and the Value of the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 969-985, December.
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    11. Avinash Dixit, 1992. "Investment and Hysteresis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 107-132, Winter.
    12. McDonald, Robert L & Siegel, Daniel R, 1985. "Investment and the Valuation of Firms When There Is an Option to Shut Down," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 26(2), pages 331-349, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kose,Ayhan & Ohnsorge,Franziska Lieselotte & Ye,Lei Sandy & Islamaj,Ergys, 2017. "Weakness in investment growth : causes, implications and policy responses," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7990, The World Bank.
    2. Rafael Gomez & David K. Foot, 2003. "Age Structure, Income Distribution and Economic Growth," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 29(s1), pages 141-162, January.
    3. César Calderón & Luis Servén, 2004. "The Effects of Infrastructure Development on Growth and Income Distribution," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 270, Central Bank of Chile.
    4. repec:ilo:ilowps:488271 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Bajar, Sumedha & Rajeev, Meenakshi, 2015. "Impact of infrastructure provisioning on inequality: Evidence from India," Working Papers 337, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.
    6. Escobal, Javier, 2005. "The Role of Public Infraestructure in Market Development in Rural Peru," MPRA Paper 727, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Campante, Filipe R. & Ferreira, Francisco H.G., 2007. "Inefficient lobbying, populism and oligarchy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 993-1021, June.
    8. Ferreira, Francisco & Prennushi, Giovanna & Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Protecting the poor from macroeconomic shocks," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2160, The World Bank.
    9. World Bank Group, 2017. "Global Economic Prospects, January 2017," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 25823.

    More about this item


    Wealth distribution; capital market imperfections; inequality; public investment.;

    JEL classification:

    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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