Heterogeneity in social values and capital accumulation in a changing world

Pierre Gosselin, Aïleen Lotz, Marc Wambst

Abstract: In a society characterized by a multitude of heterogeneous agents and a large number of possibly immaterial goods, each one having distinct social and personal values, we study the impact of these relative values on intergenerational capital accumulation, as a function of economic and social parameters such as capital mobility, productivity and personal and social values discrepancies. Each agent is modelled by a one-period production function and a two-period intertemporal utility. Agents live, produce and consume over one period, but optimize over two periods, so providing a remaining stock of goods for the next generation. This creates a dynamics in capital accumulation depending on social and individual values. A threshold appears in capital stock accumulation that depends on personal and social values’ volatilities, and below which the initial stock will be depleted. Whereas volatility in social values increases the threshold, impairing capital accumulation, adverse shocks in goods’ values may reverse the dynamics of the accumulation process. Finally, capital mobility specifically favors forerunners, but capital accumulation in one or several sectors may shift social values in their direction, at the expense of other sectors.
Keywords: Capital accumulation, disaggregated capital, take-off, threshold effect, intergenerational models, Cambridge capital controversy.
JEL Classification: E22, O10, O30, O40.