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Aspirations and Inequality

Listed author(s):
  • Garance Genicot
  • Debraj Ray

This paper develops a theory of socially determined aspirations, and the interaction of those aspirations with growth and inequality. The interaction is bidirectional: economy-wide outcomes determine individual aspirations, which in turn determine investment incentives and social outcomes. Thus aspirations, income and the distribution of income evolve jointly. When capital stocks lie in some compact set, steady states distributions must exhibit inequality and are typically clustered around local poles. When sustained growth is possible, initial histories matter. Either there is convergence to an equal distribution (with growth) or there is perennial relative divergence across clusters, with within-cluster convergence. A central feature that drives these results is that aspirations that are moderately above an individual’s current standard of living tend to encourage investment, while still higher aspirations may lead to frustration.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19976.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19976.

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Date of creation: Mar 2014
Publication status: forthcoming in Econometrica
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19976
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  1. Jaime Alonso-Carrera & Jordi Caballé & Xavier Raurich, 2007. "Aspirations, Habit Formation, and Bequest Motive," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(520), pages 813-836, 04.
  2. Robert Jensen & Emily Oster, 2009. "The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1057-1094.
  3. Durlauf, Steven N & Johnson, Paul A, 1995. "Multiple Regimes and Cross-Country Growth Behaviour," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 365-384, Oct.-Dec..
  4. Eliana La Ferrara & Alberto Chong & Suzanne Duryea, 2012. "Soap Operas and Fertility: Evidence from Brazil," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 1-31, October.
  5. Maria Grazia Pittau & Roberto Zelli, 2004. "Testing for changing shapes of income distribution: Italian evidence in the 1990s from kernel density estimates," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 415-430, 05.
  6. Jonathan Shalev, 2000. "Loss aversion equilibrium," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 29(2), pages 269-287.
  7. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  8. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1989. "Intergenerational Altruism, Dynastic Equilibria and Social Welfare," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(1), pages 119-128.
  9. Freeman, Scott, 1996. "Equilibrium Income Inequality among Identical Agents," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 1047-1064, October.
  10. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
  11. Patricio S. Dalton & Sayantan Ghosal & Anandi Mani, 2016. "Poverty and Aspirations Failure," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(590), pages 165-188, 02.
  12. Maria Grazia Pittau & Roberto Zelli & Paul A. Johnson, 2010. "Mixture Models, Convergence Clubs, And Polarization," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(1), pages 102-122, 03.
  13. Macours, Karen & Vakis, Renos, 2009. "Changing households'investments and aspirations through social interactions : evidence from a randomized transfer program," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5137, The World Bank.
  14. repec:adr:anecst:y:2001:i:63-64:p:12 is not listed on IDEAS
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