No SDES-2018-10
Title The dynamics of exploitation and inequality in economies with heterogeneous agents
Author Giorgos Galanis, Roberto Veneziani and Naoki Yoshihara
Abstract This paper analyses the relation between growth, inequalities, and exploitation as the unequal exchange of labour (UE exploitation). An economy with heterogeneous, intertemporally optimising agents is considered which generalises John Roemer's [52, 53] seminal models. First, a correspondence between pro ts and the existence (and intensity) of UE exploitation is proved in the dynamic context. This result is important, positively, because the pro t rate is one of the key determinants of investment decisions, and, normatively, because it provides a link between UE exploitation and the functional distribution of income. Second, it is shown that asset inequalities are fundamental for the emergence of UE exploitation, but they are not sufficient for its persistence, both in equilibria with accumulation and growth, and, perhaps more surprisingly, in stationary intertemporal equilibrium paths. Labour-saving technical progress, however, may yield sustained growth with persistent UE exploitation by keeping labour abundant relative to capital. Persistent inequalities in income and labour exchanged arise from the interaction between labour market conditions and differential ownership of productive assets.
Revised version published in Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control