IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Distribution & Growth in an Economy with Limited Needs


  • Saint-Paul, Gilles


This Paper studies a model of the distribution of income under bounded needs. Utility derived from any given good reaches a bliss point at a finite consumption level of that good. On the other hand, introducing new varieties always increases utility. It is assumed that each variety is owned by a monopoly. Workers can specialise in material goods production or in the knowledge sector, which designs new varieties. It is shown that if the elasticity of labor supply to the knowledge sector is bounded, as productivity increases, the economy moves from a ‘Solovian zone’ where wages increase with productivity, to a ‘Marxian’ zone where they paradoxically decline with productivity. This is because as consumption of a given good increases, the price elasticity of demand falls, and markups increase to infinity as consumption reaches the unit elasticity point. Such a point typically exists because of the finiteness of needs. It is also shown that if individual creativity is more unevenly distributed than productivity, technical progress always increases inequality. Redistribution from profits to workers in the production sectors always benefits arbitrarily poor workers regardless of their distortionary effect on the number of varieties, because diversity is not valued by very poor agents. In contrast, rich agents close enough to their bliss point can only be made better off by an increase in diversity. If wages are set by monopoly unions rather than set competitively, they are proportional to productivity and the Marxian zone no longer exists. But technical progress always reduces employment in the material goods sector. International trade may reduce wages in poor countries and increase them in rich countries if under autarky the former consumes less of each good that the latter.

Suggested Citation

  • Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2001. "Distribution & Growth in an Economy with Limited Needs," CEPR Discussion Papers 2834, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2834

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Xavier Sala-I-Martin & Gernot Doppelhofer & Ronald I. Miller, 2004. "Determinants of Long-Term Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates (BACE) Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 813-835, September.
    3. Thorvaldur Gylfason & Gylfi Zoega, 2006. "Natural Resources and Economic Growth: The Role of Investment," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(8), pages 1091-1115, August.
    4. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1992. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 942-963, September.
    5. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1985. "Debt, Deficits, and Finite Horizons," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 223-247, April.
    6. World Bank, 2000. "World Development Indicators 2000," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13828, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    economic growth; Income Distribution; innovation; knowledge economy; research and development; technical change; wages;

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2834. 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: (). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.