IZA DP No. 12680: Untimely Destruction: Pestilence, War and Accumulation in the Long Run
This paper analyses the effects of disease and war on the accumulation of human and physical capital. We employ an overlapping-generations frame-work in which young adults, confronted with such hazards and motivated by old-age provision and altruism, make decisions about investments in schooling and reproducible capital. A poverty trap exists for a wide range of stationary war losses and premature adult mortality. If parents are altruistic and their sub-utility function for own consumption is more concave than that for the children's human capital, the only possible steady-state growth path involves full education. Otherwise, steady-state paths with incompletely educated children may exist, some of them stationary ones. We also examine, analytically and with numerical examples, a growing economy's robustness in a stochastic environment. The initial boundary conditions have a strong influence on outcomes in response to a limited sequence of destructive shocks.