Evolution, Fertility and the Ageing Population
AbstractWe propose that the recent rise in the fertility rate in developed countries is the beginning of a broad-based increase in fertility towards above-replacement levels. Environmental shocks that reduced fertility over the past 200 years changed the composition of fertility-related traits in the population and temporarily raised fertility heritability. As those with higher fertility are selected for, the “high-fertility” genotypes are expected to come to dominate the population, causing the fertility rate to return to its pre-shock level. We show that even with relatively low levels of genetically based variation in fertility, there can be a rapid return to a high-fertility state, with recovery to above-replacement levels usually occurring within a few generations. In the longer term, this implies that the proportion of elderly in the population will be lower than projected, reducing the fiscal burden of ageing on developed world governments. However, the rise in the fertility rate increases the population size and proportion of dependent young, presenting other fiscal and policy challenges.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion / Working Papers with number 13-02.
Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
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This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AGE-2013-04-20 (Economics of Ageing)
- NEP-ALL-2013-04-20 (All new papers)
- NEP-EVO-2013-04-20 (Evolutionary Economics)
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