Inequality and Social Discounting

Posted: 20 Dec 2007

See all articles by Emmanuel Farhi

Emmanuel Farhi

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Iván Werning

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

We explore steady-state inequality in an intergenerational model with altruistically linked individuals who experience privately observed taste shocks. When the welfare function depends only on the initial generation, efficiency requires immiseration: inequality grows without bound and everyone's consumption converges to zero. We study other efficient allocations in which the welfare function values future generations directly, placing a positive but vanishing weight on their welfare. The social discount factor is then higher than the private one, and for any such difference we find that consumption exhibits mean reversion and that a steady-state, cross-sectional distribution for consumption and welfare exists, with no one trapped at misery.

Suggested Citation

Farhi, Emmanuel and Werning, Ivan, Inequality and Social Discounting. Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 115, No. 3, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1076565

Emmanuel Farhi

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Ivan Werning (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-251
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-452-3662 (Phone)
617-253-1330 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econ-www.mit.edu/faculty/iwerning

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
344
PlumX Metrics