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Redistribution spurs growth by using a portfolio effect on human capital

Jan Lorenz, Fabian Paetzel, Frank Schweitzer

posted on 20 October 2012

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We demonstrate by mathematical analysis and systematic computer simulations that redistribution can lead to sustainable growth in a society. The human capital dynamics of each agent is described by a stochastic multiplicative process which, in the long run, leads to the destruction of individual human capital and the extinction of the individualistic society. When agents are linked by fully-redistributive taxation the situation might turn to individual growth in the long run. We consider that a government collects a proportion of income and reduces it by a fraction as costs for administration (efficiency losses). The remaining public good is equally redistributed to all agents. We derive conditions under which the destruction of human capital can be turned into sustainable growth, despite the losses from the random growth process and despite the administrative costs. Sustainable growth is induced by redistribution. This effect could be explained by a simple portfolio-effect which re-balances individual stochastic processes.
The findings are verified for three different tax schemes: proportional tax, taking proportional more from the rich, and proportionally more from the poor. We discuss which of these tax schemes is optimal with respect to maximize growth under a fixed rate of administrative costs, or with respect to maximize the governmental income. This leads us to some general conclusions about governmental decisions, the relation to public good games, and the use of taxation in a risk taking society.