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The poor, the rich and the enforcer: institutional choice and growth

  • Erwan Quintin
  • Thorsten Koeppl
  • Cyril Monnet

We study economies where improving the quality of institutions – modeled as improving contract enforcement – requires resources, but enables trade that raises output by reducing the dispersion of marginal products of capital. We find that in this type of environment it is optimal to combine institutional building with endowment redistribution, and that more ex-ante dispersion in marginal products increases the incentives to invest in enforcement. In addition, we show that institutional investments lead over time to a progressive reduction in inequality. Finally, the framework we describe enables us to formalize the hypothesis formulated by Engerman and Sokoloff (2002) that the initial concentration of human and physical capital can explain the divergence of different countries’ institutional history.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in its series Working Papers with number 0801.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:feddwp:0801
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  1. Roland Benabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson, 2005. "Unbundling Institutions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 949-995, October.
  3. Sappington, David, 1983. "Limited liability contracts between principal and agent," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-21, February.
  4. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2005. "Zero Expected Wealth Taxes: A Mirrlees Approach to Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1587-1621, 09.
  5. Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve & García-Peñalosa, Cecilia, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Scholarly Articles 12502063, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  7. Koeppl, Thorsten Volker, 2003. "Optimal dynamic risk sharing when enforcement is a decision variable," Working Paper Series 0282, European Central Bank.
  8. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," NBER Working Papers 10568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Das Human Kapital," Working Papers 2000-17, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  10. Acemoglu, Daron & Golosov, Mikhail & Tsyvinski, Aleh, 2008. "Markets versus governments," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 159-189, January.
  11. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development among New World Economies," ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, August.
  12. Huw Lloyd-Ellis & Dan Bernhardt, 2000. "Enterprise, Inequality and Economic Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(1), pages 147-168.
  13. Easterly, William, 2007. "Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 755-776, November.
  14. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A., 2005. "Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 385-472 Elsevier.
  15. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-98, April.
  16. Rogerson, William P, 1985. "Repeated Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 69-76, January.
  17. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
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