- This paper analyzes the political economy of growth as an issue of intergenerational distribution. The first part of the paper develops a model of endogenous growth via human capital accumulation in an overlapping generations setting. Equilibrium growth is inefficient due to the presence of an intergenerational externality. We characterize the set of Pareto efficient paths for physical and human capital accumulation, and find that there is a continuum of efficient growth rate-interest rate combinations. The preferred combination for an infinitely-lived planner will depend on the social discount rate. Competitive equilibrium with subsidized or mandated human capital accumulation may give rise to a Pareto efficient steady state, though for some parameters efficiency requires some intergenerational redistribution. We then argue that a social planner or government with an infinite horizon is incongruous in an OG model when the agents all have finite horizons. Hence the second part of the paper addresses the question of how a government whose decisionmakers reflect the finite horizons of their constituents would choose policies that affect physical and human capital accumulation. Specifically we assume that each government maximizes a weighted sum of utilities of those currently alive. Each period the government selects a policy that takes into account the effect (through state variables) on subsequent policy decisions (and hence on the welfare of the current young generation). Numerical methods involving polynomial approximations are used to compute equilibria under specific parametric assumptions. Equilibrium growth rates turn out to be substantially below efficient rates.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department.
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