NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Heterogeneous Wealth Dynamics: On the Roles of Risk and Ability

Paulo Santos, Christopher B. Barrett

NBER Working Paper No. 22626
Issued in September 2016
NBER Program(s):Development Economics

This paper studies the causal mechanisms behind persistent poverty. Using original data on Boran pastoralists of southern Ethiopia, we find that heterogeneous and nonlinear wealth dynamics arise purely in adverse states of nature. In favorable states, expected herd grow is quasi-linear and universal. We further show that those with lower herding ability, as reflected in past herd growth data, converge to a unique equilibrium at a small herd size while those with higher ability exhibit multiple stable dynamic wealth equilibria.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22626

Forthcoming: Heterogeneous Wealth Dynamics: On the Roles of Risk and Ability, Paulo Santos, Christopher B. Barrett. in The Economics of Poverty Traps, Barrett, Carter, and Chavas. 2017

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