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“Love of wealth” and economic growth

Review of Development Economics

Published online on


In a Ramsey–Cass–Koopmans growth framework it is shown that for an optimum a benevolent social planner cannot have an excessive “love of wealth”. With a “right” “love of wealth” an optimum exists and implies higher long‐run per‐capita capital, income, and consumption relative to the standard model. This has important implications for comparative development trajectories. The optimum implies dynamic efficiency with the possibility of getting arbitrarily close to the golden rule where long‐run per‐capita consumption is maximal. It is shown that the optimal path attains its steady state more slowly. Thus, the beneficial effects of love of wealth materialize later than in the standard model. Furthermore, the economy can be decentralized as a competitive private ownership economy. One can then identify “love of wealth” with the “spirit of capitalism.” The paper thus implies that one needs a “right” level of the “spirit of capitalism” to realize any beneficial effects for the long run.