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Heterogeneity, Stratification, and Growth

  • Roland Benabou

We examine how economic stratification affects inequality and growth over time. We study economies where heterogenous agents interact through local public goods or externalities (school funding, neighborhood effects) and economy-wide linkages (complementary skills. knowledge spillovers). We compare growth and welfare when families are stratified into homogeneous local communities and when they remain integrated. Segregation tends to minimize the losses from a given amount of heterogeneity, but integration reduces heterogeneity faster. Society may thus face an intertemporal tradeoff: mixing leads to slower growth in the short run, but to higher output or even productivity growth in the long run. This tradeoff occurs in particular when comparing local and national funding of education, which correspond to special cases of segregation and integration. More generally, we identify the key parameters which determine which structure is more efficient over short and long horizons. Particularly important are the degrees of complementarity in local and in global interactions.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4311.

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Date of creation: Apr 1993
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Publication status: published as modified title: "Heterogeneity, Stratification and Growth: Macroeconomicmplications of Community Structure and School Finance," American Economic Review, vol. 86, no. 3, pp. 584-609, June 1996.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4311
Note: EFG
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  1. Streufert, Peter, 2000. " The Effect of Underclass Social Isolation on Schooling Choice," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 2(4), pages 461-82.
  2. Tamura, R., 1991. "Efficient Equilibrium Convergence : Heterogeneity and Growth," Working Papers 91-16, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  3. Fernandez, R. & Rogerson, R., 1992. "Income Distribution, Communities and the Quality of Public Education: A Policy Analysis," Papers 1, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  4. Burda, Michael C & Wyplosz, Charles, 1991. "Human Capital, Investment and Migration in an Integrated Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 614, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  9. George J. Borjas, 1991. "Ethnic Capital and Intergenerational Mobility," NBER Working Papers 3788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 843-67, June.
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  12. Arnott, Richard & Rowse, John, 1987. "Peer group effects and educational attainment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 287-305, April.
  13. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 389-405, June.
  14. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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  16. Banerjee, A.V. & Besley, T., 1990. "Peer Group Externalities And The Learning Incentives: A Theory Of Nerd Behavior," Papers 68, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
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