18 March 2013
Ex Boccherini - Piazza S. Ponziano 6 (Conference Room )
Countries with greater social capital have higher economic growth. We show that social capital is also highly positively correlated across countries with government expenditure on education. We develop an infinite-horizon model of public spending and endogenous stochastic growth that explains both facts through frictions in political agency when voters have imperfect information. In our model, the government provides services that yield immediate utility, and investment that raises future productivity. Voters are more likely to observe public services, so politicians have electoral incentives to under- provide public investment. Social capital increases votersawareness of all government activity. As a consequence, both politicians incentives and their selection improve. In the dynamic equilibrium, both the amount and the efficiency of public investment increase, permanently raising the growth rate.