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Predation, Efficiency, and Inequality

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  • Herschel I. Grossman
  • Minseong Kim

Abstract

This paper shows how predation breaks the links between an economy's aggregate resourceendowment and aggregate consumption and between the interpersonal distribution of endowments and the interpersonal distribution of consumption. We construct a general-equilibrium model in which some people (the privileged) are well endowed with resources and other people (the unprivileged) are poorly endowed with resources and in which each person can choose to be either a producer or a predator. Here, the choice by some to be predators decreases decreases aggregate consumption, both because the predators' resources are wasted and because producers sacrifice production by allocating resources to guarding against predators. Analyzing this model we find that the minimum equilibrium ratio of predators to producers depends on the technology of predation. Also, the equilibrium ratio of predators to producers equals its minimum value if and only if the ratio of unprivileged to privileged people is not larger than this minimum value. These properties imply that, in contrast to a model that abstracts from predation, the fully egalitarian distribution of resources does not satisfy the Rawlsian criterion of maximizing the consumption of the person with the lowest consumption. (In fact, the fully egalitarian distribution is not even Pareto efficient). Instead, the Rawlsian criterion selects an unegalitarian distribution of resources in which the ratio of unprivileged to privileged people equals the minimum ratio of predators to producers and in which unprivileged have only the minimum possible endowment of resources. In the resulting Rawlsian equilibrium, only unprivileged people choose to be predators rather than producers and because both the ratio of predators to producers and the amount of resources predators waste are minimized aggregate consumption is maximized.

Suggested Citation

  • Herschel I. Grossman & Minseong Kim, 1997. "Predation, Efficiency, and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 6301, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6301
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Grossman, Herschel I & Kim, Minseong, 1995. "Swords or Plowshares? A Theory of the Security of Claims to Property," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1275-1288, December.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:79:y:1985:i:04:p:943-957_23 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Ranasinghe, Ashantha, 2017. "Property rights, extortion and the misallocation of talent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 86-110.
    2. Jan U. Auerbach & Costas Azariadis, 2015. "Property Rights, Governance, and Economic Development," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(2), pages 210-220, May.
    3. Bos, Dieter & Kolmar, Martin, 2003. "Anarchy, efficiency, and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2431-2457, October.
    4. Peter T. Leeson, 2007. "Trading with Bandits," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 303-321.
    5. Shankha Chakraborty & Era Dabla-Norris, 2006. "Rent Seeking," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 53(1), pages 1-2.
    6. Kolmar, Martin, 2005. "The contribution of Herschel I. Grossman to political economy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 802-814, December.
    7. Herschel I. Grossman & Minseong Kim, 2003. "Educational Policy: Egalitarian or Elitist?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(3), pages 225-246, November.
    8. Herschel I. Grossman, 1998. "Producers and Predators," Working Papers 98-6, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    9. Grossman, Herschel I., 2005. "Inventors and pirates: creative activity and intellectual property rights," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 269-285, June.
    10. Herschel I. Grossman & Minseong Kim, 1998. "Human Capital and Predation: A Positive Theory of Educational Policy," NBER Working Papers 6403, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Rodolfo Apreda, 2004. "Corporate Rent-Seeking and the managerial soft-budget constraint," CEMA Working Papers: Serie Documentos de Trabajo. 283, Universidad del CEMA.
    12. Grossman, Herschel I., 2002. ""Make us a king": anarchy, predation, and the state," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 31-46, March.
    13. Fujii, Dmitri, 2009. "Who Wants To Be a Genius?," Panorama Económico, Escuela Superior de Economía, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, vol. 0(09), pages 7-54, segundo s.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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