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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Thorsten Koeppl, 2005. "Optimal Dynamic Risk Sharing when Enforcement is a Decision Variable," Working Papers 1050, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  5. Acemoglu, Daron & Golosov, Mikhail & Tsyvinski, Aleh, 2008. "Markets versus governments," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 159-189, January.
  6. 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.
  7. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Das Human Kapital," Working Papers 2000-17, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  8. Cecilia Garcia-Penalosa & Eve Caroli & Philippe Aghion, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1615-1660, December.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson, 2005. "Unbundling Institutions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 949-995, October.
  10. Easterly, William, 2007. "Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 755-776, November.
  11. Rogerson, William P, 1985. "Repeated Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 69-76, January.
  12. Persson, T. & Tabellini, G., 1993. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth," Papers 537, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  13. Dan Bernhardt & Huw Lloyd-Ellis, 1993. "Enterprise, Inequality and Economic Development," Working Papers 893, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  14. Benabou, R., 1996. "Inequality and Growth," Working Papers 96-22, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  15. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development among New World Economies," JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
  16. Sappington, David, 1983. "Limited liability contracts between principal and agent," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-21, February.
  17. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2004. "Zero Expected Wealth Taxes: A Mirrlees Approach to Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000729, UCLA Department of Economics.
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