Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Seminar Papers,
Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies

No 735: Patience Capital and the Demise of the Aristocracy

Matthias Doepke () and Fabrizio Zilibotti ()
Additional contact information
Matthias Doepke: University of California, Los Angeles, Postal: Department of Economics, UCLA, 405 Hilgard Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1477 , USA
Fabrizio Zilibotti: Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University, Postal: Stockholm University, S-106 69 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: We model the decision problem of a parent who chooses an occupation and invests in the patience of her children. The two choices complement each other: patient individuals choose occupations with a steep income profile; a steep income profile, in turn, leads to a strong incentive to invest in patience. In equilibrium, society becomes stratified along occupational lines. The most patient people are those in occupations requiring the most education and experience. The theory can account for the demise of the British land-owning aristocracy in the nineteenth century, when rich landowners proved unable to profit from new opportunities arising with industrialization, and were thus surpassed by industrialists rising from the middle classes.

Keywords: discount factor; patience; British aristocracy; Industrial Revolution; capital accumulation; income distribution

JEL-codes: N23; O14; O15; Z10

67 pages, April 1, 2005

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