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Population growth, factor accumulation, and productivity


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  • Pritchett, Lant


In research on how population growth affects economic performance, some researchers stress that population growth reduces the natural resources and capital (physical and human) per worker while other researchers stress how greater population size and density affect productivity. Despite these differing theoretical predictions, the empirical literature hs focused mainly on the relationship between population growth and output per person (or crude proxies for factor accumulation). It has not decomposed the effect of population through factor accumulation and the effect through productivity. The author uses newly created cross-country, time-series data on physical capital stocks and the educational stock of the labor force to establish six findings: There is no correlation between the growth of capital per worker and population growth. The common practice of using investment rates as a proxy for capital stock growth rates is completely unjustified, as the two are uncorrelated across countries. There is either no correlation, or a weak positive correlation, between the growth of years of schooling per worker and the population growth rate. Enrollment rates are even worse as a crude proxy for the expansion of the educational capital stock, as the two are negatively correlated. There is no correlation, or a weak negative correlation, between measures of total factory productivity growth and population growth. Nearly all of the weak correlation between the growth of output per person and population growth is the result of shifts in participation in the labor force, not of changes in output per worker.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1567.

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Date of creation: 31 Jan 1996
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1567

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Keywords: Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Public Health Promotion; Economic Theory&Research; Environmental Economics&Policies; Economic Conditions and Volatility; Agricultural Research; Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Economic Growth; Achieving Shared Growth; Environmental Economics&Policies;


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Cited by:
  1. Erich Gundlach, 1997. "Openness and economic growth in developing countries," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, Springer, vol. 133(3), pages 479-496, September.
  2. Esa Mangeloja, 2005. "Economic growth and religious production efficiency," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(20), pages 2349-2359.
  3. Pritchett, Lant, 1995. "Divergence, big time," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1522, The World Bank.
  4. Liana SON & Graţiela Georgiana NOJA & Mihai RITIVOIU & Roxana TOLTEANU, 2013. "Education and Economic Growth: an Empirical Analysis of Interdependencies and Impacts Based on Panel Data," Timisoara Journal of Economics and Business, West University of Timisoara, Romania, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, West University of Timisoara, Romania, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, vol. 6(19), pages 39–54.
  5. Esa Mangeloja, 2004. "Economic Growth and Religious Production Efficiency," DEGIT Conference Papers, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade c009_040, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  6. Gerry Boyle & Tom McCarthy & Jim Walsh, 1999. "Regional Income Differentials and the Issue of Regional Equalisation in Ireland," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth n880499, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  7. Yoruk, Baris, 2007. "Human Capital, Innovation, and Productivity Growth: Tales from Latin America and Caribbean," MPRA Paper 3667, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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