We first study growth and risk sharing in a stochastic growth model with preference shocks and two risk-averse agents. In periods in which one of the agents needs extra consumption (insurance), it is socially optimal to reduce the consumption of the other agent (redistribution) and also to accumulate fewer resources for the future (disinvestment). The latter hurts growth while the former only affects the distribution of aggregate consumption. Then, to analyze if information matters, we study if the same allocation would be implementable under private information. We find that it depends on the state of the economy. The provision of insurance that is implemented by reducing capital accumulation deteriorates the prospects of all agents in the economy and thus helps to alleviate informational frictions. The size of redistribution versus disinvestment and the outlook of economic growth at the time of disinvestment affects the possibilities of implementing the best possible allocation when the preference shock is private information. Therefore, we conjecture that under private information the best allocation compatible with incentives would tend to hurt growth and to concentrate resources in agents with private information in order to provide incentives to report the shock truthfully.
Amanda L. Kramer
To receive a notification by email when Economic Quarterly is posted online or to order single copies of past issues, click on the links below (published online only since 2012).