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Endogenous Fertility, Mortality and Economic Growth: Can a Malthusian Framework Account for the Conflicting Historical Trends in Population?

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  • Isaac Ehrlich
  • Jinyoung Kim

Abstract

The 19th century economist, Thomas Robert Malthus, hypothesized that the long-run supply of labor is completely elastic at a fixed wage-income level because population growth tends to outstrip real output growth. Dynamic equilibrium with constant income and population is achieved through equilibrating adjustments in "positive checks" (mortality, starvation) and "preventive checks" (marriage, fertility). Developing economies since the Industrial Revolution, and more recently especially Asian economies, have experienced steady income growth accompanied by sharply falling fertility and mortality rates. We develop a dynamic model of endogenous fertility, longevity, and human capital formation within a Malthusian framework that allows for diminishing returns to labor but also for the role of human capital as an engine of growth. Our model accounts for economic stagnation with high fertility and mortality and constant population and income, as predicted by Malthus, but also for takeoffs to a growth regime and a demographic transition toward low fertility and mortality rates, and a persistent growth in per-capita income.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11590.

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Date of creation: Sep 2005
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Publication status: published as "Endogenous fertility, mortality and economic growth: Can a Malthusian framework account for the conflicting historical trends in population?" Journal of Asian Economics, 16 (2005), pp. 789-806.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11590

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  7. Matthias Doepke, 2001. "Accounting for Fertility Decline During the Transition to Growth," UCLA Economics Working Papers 804, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. Tamura, Robert, 2002. "Human capital and the switch from agriculture to industry," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 207-242, December.
  9. Ehrlich, Isaac & Lui, Francis, 1997. "The problem of population and growth: A review of the literature from Malthus to contemporary models of endogenous population and endogenous growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 205-242, January.
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  15. Nils-Petter Lagerl–f, 2003. "From Malthus to Modern Growth: Can Epidemics Explain the Three Regimes?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(2), pages 755-777, 05.
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Cited by:
  1. Ehrlich, Isaac & Yin, Yong, 2014. "Equilibrium Health Spending and Population Aging in a Model of Endogenous Growth: Will the GDP Share of Health Spending Keep Rising?," IZA Discussion Papers 7928, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Ulla Lehmijoki & Tapio Palokangas, 2010. "Demographic and Economic Consequences of the Post-war Mortality Decline in Developing Countries," DEGIT Conference Papers c015_010, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  3. Strulik, Holger & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2008. "Birth, Death, and Development: A Simple Unified Growth Theory," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-412, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  4. Lehmijoki, Ulla & Palokangas, Tapio K., 2011. "The Long-Run Effects of Mortality Decline in Developing Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 5422, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Agénor, Pierre-Richard, 2010. "A theory of infrastructure-led development," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 932-950, May.
  6. Strulik, Holger & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2010. "How Child Costs and Survival Shaped the Industrial Revolution and the Demographic Transition: A Theoretical Inquiry," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-442, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.

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