Journal of Economics

, Volume 128, Issue 2, pp 99–118 | Cite as

Optimal public policy à la Ramsey in an endogenous growth model

  • Elena Del ReyEmail author
  • Miguel-Angel Lopez-Garcia


We use an overlapping generations model with physical and human capital to ascertain the consequences for optimality of a social planner adopting a welfare criterion that treats all generations alike and is respectful of individual preferences. In particular, we consider a social planner who maximizes a non-discounted sum of individual utilities à la Ramsey, with consumption levels expressed in terms of output per unit of efficient labour. We show that the optimal growth path does not depend on the precise cardinalization of preferences (i.e., the degree of homogeneity of the utility function) and that it converges to the “Golden Rule” defined in this endogenous growth framework. The instruments available to the social planner are subsidies to the investment in education by the younger generation and lump-sum taxes on the middle-aged and the retirees. Decentralizing the optimum trajectory requires that subsidies to investment in education be negative (i.e., taxes), and that pensions to the elderly be positive along the entire optimal growth path. These results hold regardless of the initial conditions.


Endogenous growth Human capital Education policy Intergenerational transfers Pensions 

JEL Classification

D90 H21 H52 H55 



The authors are indebted to two anonymous referees for their helpful comments. This work has also benefited from discussion with Michael Kaganovich. Needless to say, the usual caveat applies. We acknowledge financial support from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (Ministry of Finances, Spain), the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through Research Grants ECO2016-76255-P and ECO2015-67999-R, the Autonomous Government of Catalonia through Research Grants 2014SGR-1360 and 2014SGR-327, the MOMA Network under Project ECO2014-57673-REDT and XREPP (Research Reference Network for Economics and Public Policies).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics DepartmentUniversity of GironaGironaSpain
  2. 2.Applied Economics DepartmentAutonomous University of BarcelonaBellaterra (Barcelona)Spain

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