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The Distribution of Wealth with Imperfect Altruism


  • DUTTA, Jayasri

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge, UK)

  • MICHEL, Philippe

    (IUF, GREQAM, Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France and CORE, Université catholique de Louvain, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)


In this paper, we study the distribution of wealth in an economy with infinitely lived families. Individual generations of each family may or may not be altruistic. This is represented as a preference shock which follows a first-order Markov process within each family, a feature representing imperfect altruism. Altruistic individuals care about the welfare of their children and are likely to leave bequests; selfish ones do not. This results in a non-trivial distribution of wealth among families at any point in time. We study an economy with a risk-free, linear production technology and show that a stationary distribution of wealth exists. This distribution is discrete and approximates the pareto distribution under additional restrictions. We also charac- terize conditions on the production technology which yields perpetual growth with increasing inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • DUTTA, Jayasri & MICHEL, Philippe, 1995. "The Distribution of Wealth with Imperfect Altruism," CORE Discussion Papers 1995058, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:1995058

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    Cited by:

    1. Degan, Arianna & Thibault, Emmanuel, 2016. "Dynastic accumulation of wealth," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 66-78.
    2. Michel, Philippe & Thibault, Emmanuel & Vidal, Jean-Pierre, 2006. "Intergenerational altruism and neoclassical growth models," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
    3. Jorge Durán, 2003. "Discounting long run average growth in stochastic dynamic programs," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 22(2), pages 395-413, September.
    4. Higashi, Youichiro & Hyogo, Kazuya & Takeoka, Norio, 2009. "Subjective random discounting and intertemporal choice," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 1015-1053, May.
    5. Jordi Caballé & Luisa Fuster, 2000. "Pay-as-you-go social security and the distribution of bequests," Economics Working Papers 468, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    6. MoonJoong Tcha & Fiona Lio, 2002. "An Analysis of Food Aid and Altruism," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 02-19, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    7. Falk, Ita & Stark, Oded, 2001. "Dynasties and Destiny: On the Roles of Altruism and Impatience in the Evolution of Consumption and Bequests," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(272), pages 505-518, November.
    8. Gevers, Louis & Michel, Philippe, 1998. "Economic Dynasties with Intermissions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 251-271, November.
    9. Richard Barnett & Joydeep Bhattacharya & Helle Bunzel, 2013. "Deviant generations, Ricardian equivalence, and growth cycles," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 52(1), pages 367-396, January.
    10. Shuhei Aoki & Makoto Nirei, 2014. "Zipf’s Law, Pareto’s Law, and the Evolution of Top Incomes in the U.S," UTokyo Price Project Working Paper Series 023, University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Economics.
    11. Shuhei Aoki & Makoto Nirei, 2016. "Pareto Distribution of Income in Neoclassical Growth Models," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 20, pages 25-42, April.

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