Pipe Dreams and Tunnel Visions: Economists and Australian Population Debates before the Baby Boom
AbstractAustralia is notably, if not notoriously, a land of much space but few people. Its population density is, correspondingly, almost the lowest of any country in the world: only Namibia and Mongolia record a lower figure. Australia’s extreme divergence from the common human experience has been a magnet for strong reactions; and Australia’s small population has frequently judged either being a failing or a blessing. Economists, however, have in the past two generations tended to keep their silence on this issue. But for about 20 years prior to the post-War baby boom economists did have some confidence that simple economic theory could constitute a guide to population policy, under the rubric of ‘optimal population’ theory. This paper reviews Australian explorations of ‘optimal population’ in the period, and concludes the episode provides a moral on the frustrations that may meet hopes that simple economic theory can provide answers to large questions.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University in its series CEH Discussion Papers with number 002.
Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Other versions of this item:
- William Coleman, 2012. "Pipe Dreams and Tunnel Visions: Economists and Australian Population Debates before the Baby Boom," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2012-568, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
- NEP-ALL-2012-04-03 (All new papers)
You can help add them by filling out this form.
reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.