Working Paper No. 656

Human Capital, Rent Seeking, and a Transition from Stagnation to Growth

Published: October 19, 2005Pages: 38Keywords: Conflict; Long-Run Growth; Rent Seeking JEL-codes: D74; O15; N10

Human Capital, Rent Seeking, and a Transition from Stagnation to Growth Nils-Petter Lagerlöf and Thomas Tangerås


We present a growth model where agents divide time between rent seeking in the form of resource competition; and working in a human capital sector, interpreted as trade or manufacturing. Rent seeking exerts negative externalities on the productivity of human capital, generating multiple steady states. Adding shocks to the model -- in the form of violence in the rent seeking process, and changes in the size of the contested resource base -- the model can replicate a long phase with stagnant incomes and high levels of rent seeking, interrupted by small failed growth spurts; this is eventually followed by a permanent transition to a sustained growth path where rent seeking vanishes in the limit. We illustrate the workings of the model with simulations and argue that the results, and what drives them, fit with some broad historical facts about growth, rent seeking, and the so-called natural resource curse.

 

Thomas Tangerås

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