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Building blocks for barriers to riches

  • Narayana R. Kocherlakota

Total factor productivity (TFP) differs greatly across countries. In this paper, I provide a novel rationalization for these differences. I consider two environments, one in which enforcement is full and the other in which enforcement is limited. In both settings, manufactured goods can be produced using a high-TFP technology or a low-TFP technology; there is a fixed cost associated with adoption of the former. I suppose that the fixed cost is sufficiently small that adoption takes place in a symmetric Pareto optimum in the limited-enforcement setting. Under this condition, I prove two results. First, adoption takes place in all Pareto optima in the full-enforcement setting. Second, adoption may not take place in a Pareto optimum in the limited-enforcement setting, if the division of social surplus is sufficiently unequal. I conclude that limited enforcement and high inequality interact to create particularly strong barriers to riches (in the language of Parente and Prescott (1999, 2000).

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 288.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:288
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  1. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing Without Commitment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2053, David K. Levine.
  2. Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Barriers to Riches," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661306, June.
  3. Edward C. Prescott & Stephen L. Parente, 1999. "Monopoly Rights: A Barrier to Riches," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1216-1233, December.
  4. Thomas J. Holmes & James A. Schmitz, Jr., 1995. "Resistance to new technology and trade between areas," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-17.
  5. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 1991. "Communication, commitment and growth," Economics Working Papers 1, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  6. Myerson, Roger B, 1979. "Incentive Compatibility and the Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 61-73, January.
  7. Clark, Gregory, 1987. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed? Lessons from the Cotton Mills," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(01), pages 141-173, March.
  8. Thomas J. Holmes & James A. Schmitz, Jr., 1994. "Resistance to technology and trade between areas," Staff Report 184, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1990. "Asymmetric Information Bargaining Problems with Many Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 351-67, July.
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