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Population, Technology, and Growth: From the Malthusian Regime to the Demographic Transition and Beyond

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  • Oded Galor
  • David N. Weil

Abstract

This paper develops a unified model of growth, population, and technological progress that is consistent with long-term historical evidence. The economy endogenously evolves through three phases. In the Malthusian regime, population growth is positively related to the level of income per capita. Technological progress is slow and is matched by proportional increases in population, so that output per capita is stable around a constant level. In the post-Malthusian regime, the growth rates of technology and total output increase. Population growth absorbs much of the growth of output, but income per capita does rise slowly. The economy endogenously undergoes a demographic transition in which the traditionally positive relationship between income per capita and population growth is reversed. In the Modern Growth regime, population growth is moderate or even negative, and income per capita rises rapidly. Two forces drive the transitions between regimes: First, technological progress is driven both by increases in the size of the population and by increases in the size of the population and by increases in the average level of education. Second, technological progress creates a state of disequilibrium, which raises the return to human capital and induces patients to substitute child quality for quantity.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6811.

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Date of creation: Nov 1998
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Publication status: published as American Economic Review (September 2000).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6811

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  1. Philippe Aghion & Peter Howitt, 1990. "A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction," NBER Working Papers 3223, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lee, Ronald D., 1993. "Population dynamics: Equilibrium, disequilibrium, and consequences of fluctuations," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 19, pages 1063-1115 Elsevier.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Holger Strulik & Jacob Weisdorf, 2008. "Population, food, and knowledge: a simple unified growth theory," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 195-216, September.
  4. Leonid Azarnert, 2006. "Free Education: For Whom, Where and When?," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_024, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  5. Holger Strulik, 2005. "Geography, Health, and Demo-Economic Development," Discussion Papers 05-15, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  6. Kazutoshi Miyazawa, 2006. "Growth and inequality: a demographic explanation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 559-578, July.
  7. Holger Strulik, 2002. "Economic Growth and Stagnation with Endogenous Health and Fertility," Quantitative Macroeconomics Working Papers 20208, Hamburg University, Department of Economics.
  8. Luca Spataro & Luciano Fanti, 2013. "From Malthusian to Modern fertility: When intergenerational transfers matter," Discussion Papers 2013/163, Dipartimento di Economia e Management (DEM), University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

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