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Risk sharing, inequality, and fertility

  • Roozbeh Hosseini
  • Larry E. Jones
  • Ali Shourideh

We use an extended Barro-Becker model of endogenous fertility, in which parents are heterogeneous in their labor productivity, to study the efficient degree of consumption inequality in the long run. In our environment a utilitarian planner allows for consumption inequality even when labor productivity is public information. We show that adding private information does not alter this result. We also show that the informationally constrained optimal insurance contract has a resetting property - whenever a family line experiences the highest shock, the continuation utility of each child is reset to a (high) level that is independent of history. This implies that there is a non-trivial, stationary distribution over continuation utilities and there is no mass at misery. The novelty of our approach is that the no-immiseration result is achieved without requiring that the objectives of the planner and the private agents disagree. Because there is no discrepancy between planner and private agents' objectives, the policy implications for implementation of the efficient allocation differ from previous results in the literature. Two examples of these are: 1) estate taxes are positive and 2) there are positive taxes on family size.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Working Papers with number 674.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:674
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  1. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2005. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000450, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Khan, A. & Ravikumar, B., 1997. "Growth and Risk-Sharing with Private Information," Working Papers 97-13, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  3. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  4. Rogerson, William P, 1985. "Repeated Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 69-76, January.
  5. Fernando Alvarez, 1999. "Social Mobility: The Barro-Becker Children Meet the Laitner-Loury Dynasties," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 65-103, January.
  6. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana R. Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2001. "Optimal indirect and capital taxation," Working Papers 615, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Emmanuel Farhi & Iván Werning, 2007. "Inequality and Social Discounting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 365-402.
  8. Roozbeh Hosseini & Larry E. Jones & Ali Shourideh, 2009. "Risk Sharing, Inequality and Fertility," NBER Working Papers 15111, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Christopher Phelan & Robert M Townsend, 2010. "Computing Multi-Period, Information Constrained Optima," Levine's Working Paper Archive 117, David K. Levine.
  10. Doepke, Matthias & Townsend, Robert M, 2004. "Dynamic Mechanism Design with Hidden Income and Hidden Auctions," CEPR Discussion Papers 4455, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. 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.
  12. Albanesi, Stefania & Sleet, Christopher, 2003. "Dynamic Optimal Taxation with Private Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 4006, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. Thomas, Jonathan & Worrall, Tim, 1990. "Income fluctuation and asymmetric information: An example of a repeated principal-agent problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 367-390, August.
  15. Daron Acemoglu & Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2007. "Political Economy of Mechanisms," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000886, UCLA Department of Economics.
  16. Christopher Sleet & Sevin Yeltekin, 2006. "Credibility and endogenous societal discounting," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(3), pages 410-437, July.
  17. Gary S. Becker & Robert J. Barro, 1986. "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," NBER Working Papers 1793, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Phelan, Christopher, 1998. "On the Long Run Implications of Repeated Moral Hazard," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 174-191, April.
  19. Larry E. Jones & Alice Schoonbroodt & Michèle Tertilt, 2010. "Fertility Theories: Can They Explain the Negative Fertility-Income Relationship?," NBER Chapters, in: Demography and the Economy, pages 43-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Mikhail Golosov, 2007. "Optimal Taxation With Endogenous Insurance Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 487-534, 05.
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