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Secular Stagnation? The Effect of Aging on Economic Growth in the Age of Automation

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Pascual Restrepo

Abstract

Several recent theories emphasize the negative effects of an aging population on economic growth, either because of the lower labor force participation and productivity of older workers or because aging will create an excess of savings over desired investment, leading to secular stagnation. We show that there is no such negative relationship in the data. If anything, countries experiencing more rapid aging have grown more in recent decades. We suggest that this counterintuitive finding might reflect the more rapid adoption of automation technologies in countries undergoing more pronounced demographic changes and provide evidence and theoretical underpinnings for this argument.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2017. "Secular Stagnation? The Effect of Aging on Economic Growth in the Age of Automation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 174-179, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:5:p:174-79
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.p20171101
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2016. "The Race Between Machine and Man: Implications of Technology for Growth, Factor Shares and Employment," NBER Working Papers 22252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Nicole Maestas & Kathleen J. Mullen & David Powell, 2016. "The Effect of Population Aging on Economic Growth, the Labor Force and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 22452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Nicole Maestas & Kathleen Mullen & David Powell, 2014. "The Effect of Population Aging on Economic Growth," Discussion Papers 14-012, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    4. Nicole Maestas & Kathleen J. Mullen & David Powell, 2016. "The Effect of Population Aging on Economic Growth, the Labor Force and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 22452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Robert J. Gordon, 2016. "Perspectives on The Rise and Fall of American Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 72-76, May.
    6. James Feyrer, 2007. "Demographics and Productivity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 100-109, February.
    7. Thomas Lindh & Bo Malmberg, 1999. "Age structure effects and growth in the OECD, 1950-1990," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 12(3), pages 431-449.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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