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Social Conflict


  • Jess Benhabib
  • Aldo Rustichini


In this paper we study the relationship between wealth, income distribution and growth in a game-theoretic context in which property rights are not completely enforceable. We consider equilibrium paths of accumulation which yield players utilities that are at least as high as those that they could obtain by appropriating higher consumption at the present and suffering retaliation later on. We focus on those subgame perfect equilibria which are constrained Pareto-efficient (second best). In this set of equilibria we study how the level of wealth affects growth. In particular we consider cases which produce classical traps (with standard concave technologies): growth may not be possible from low levels of wealth because of incentive constraints while policies (sometimes even first-best policies) that lead to growth are sustainable as equilibria from higher levels of wealth. We also study cases which we classify as the "Mancur Olson" type: first best policies are used at low levels of wealth along these constrained Pareto efficient equilibria, but first best policies are not sustainable at higher levels of wealth where growth slows down. We also consider the unequal weighting of players to trace the subgame perfect equilibria on the constrained Pareto frontier. We explore the relation between sustainable growth rates and the level of inequality in the distribution of income.

Suggested Citation

  • Jess Benhabib & Aldo Rustichini, 1991. "Social Conflict," Discussion Papers 937, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:937

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Diamond, Peter & Fudenberg, Drew, 1989. "Rational Expectations Business Cycles in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 606-619, June.
    2. Ricardo J. Caballero & Richard K. Lyons, 1989. "The Role of External Economies in U.S. Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 3033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kenneth Burdett & Nicholas M. Kiefer & Dale T. Mortensen & George R. Neumann, 1984. "Earnings, Unemployment, and the Allocation of Time Over Time," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(4), pages 559-578.
    4. Oliver Jean Blanchard & Peter Diamond, 1989. "The Beveridge Curve," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 20(1), pages 1-76.
    5. Michele Boldrin, 1991. "A Dynamic Equilibrium Model of Search," Discussion Papers 930, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jess Benhabib & Mark M. Spiegel, 1997. "Growth and investment across countries," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 97-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    2. Nissanke, Machiko & Thorbecke, Erik, 2006. "Channels and policy debate in the globalization-inequality-poverty nexus," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 1338-1360, August.
    3. Andres Velasco, 1997. "A Model of Endogenous Fiscal Deficits and Delayed Fiscal Reforms," NBER Working Papers 6336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Marco Ferroni & Mercedes Mateo Díaz & J. Mark Payne, 2007. "Development under Conditions of Inequality and Distrust: An Exploration of the Role of Social Capital and Social Cohesion in Latin America," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 53818, Inter-American Development Bank.
    5. Ryo Horii & Ryoji Ohdoi & Kazuhiro Yamamoto, 2005. "Finance, Technology and Inequality in Economic Development," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 05-08-Rev, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP), revised Aug 2005.
    6. Stephane Pallage, 2000. "On the Enforcement of Cooperative Environmental Policies," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(3), pages 572-596, July.
    7. Morana, Claudio, 2002. "An empirical investigation of long-run growth in the UK," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 49-70, March.
    8. Horst Siebert, 1998. "Commentary : economic consequences of income inequality," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 265-281.

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