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Something out of Nothing? Neoclassical Growth and the ‘Trivial’ Steady State


  • Hendrik Hakenes
  • Andreas Irmen


A common perception about the neoclassical growth model is that an economy devoid of capital cannot evolve to strictly positive levels of output if capital is essential. We challenge this view by positing a broad class of production functions, encompassing the neoclassical production function, that—surprisingly—show that a take-off is possible even though the initial capital stock is zero and capital is essential. Since the marginal product of capital is initially infinite, the "trivial" steady state becomes so unstable that the solution to the equation of motion involves the possibility of a take-off. When it happens, the take-off is spontaneous: there is no causality, not even randomness.

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  • Hendrik Hakenes & Andreas Irmen, 2006. "Something out of Nothing? Neoclassical Growth and the ‘Trivial’ Steady State," CESifo Working Paper Series 1671, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1671

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Elias Papaioannou & Gregorios Siourounis, 2008. "Democratisation and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(532), pages 1520-1551, October.
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    5. Dani Rodrik & Romain Wacziarg, 2005. "Do Democratic Transitions Produce Bad Economic Outcomes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 50-55, May.
    6. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutional Rules and Fiscal Policy Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 25-45, March.
    7. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
    8. Torsten Persson, 2005. "Forms of Democracy, Policy and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 11171, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    capital accumulation; neoclassical growth model;

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