From rent seeking to human capital: a model where resource shocks cause transitions from stagnation to growth
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. The latter is interpreted as trade or manufacturing. Rent seeking exerts negative externalities on the productivity of human capital. Adding shocks, in the form of fluctuations in the size of the contested resource, the model can replicate a long phase with stagnant incomes and high levels of rent seeking, interrupted by small, failed growth spurts, eventually followed by a permanent transition to a sustained growth path where rent seeking vanishes in the limit. The model also generates a rise and fall of the so-called natural resource curse: before the takeoff, an increase in the size of the contested resource has a positive effect on incomes; shortly after the takeoff, the effect is negative; and on the balanced growth path the growth rate of per capita income is independent of resource shocks.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2008-08-01