IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Predation, Efficiency, and Inequality

Listed author(s):
  • Herschel I. Grossman
  • Minseong Kim

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6301.

in new window

Date of creation: Dec 1997
Publication status: published as Herschel I. Grossman & Minseong Kim, 2002. "Predation, Efficiency, and Inequality," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 158(3), pages 393-, September.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6301
Note: PE
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6301. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.