DRI Working Paper No. 45
By Dilip Mookherjee, Boston University and Debraj Ray, NYU
Inequality and Markets: Some Implications of Occupational Diversity
This paper characterizes long run income distribution in a competitive economy with borrowing constraints. Parents decide both on financial bequests and investments in their children's education. The occupational structure is "rich": there is a continuum of occupations with varying entry costs that are imperfect substitutes in the production process. Occupational returns are endogenously determined by market conditions. If the span of occupational investments is wide enough, the wealth distribution is non- degenerate and long-run inequality arises. In this case, the average return to education must rise with the level of educational investment - the return to human capital is endogenously nonconcave. This finding, which contrasts with the usual presumption that the private return to human capital is decreasing, constitutes the central empirically testable proposition of this paper.