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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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  • Ehrlich, Isaac
  • Kim, Jinyoung

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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  • Ehrlich, Isaac & Kim, Jinyoung, 2005. "Endogenous fertility, mortality and economic growth: Can a Malthusian framework account for the conflicting historical trends in population?," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 789-806, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:asieco:v:16:y:2005:i:5:p:789-806
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Isaac Ehrlich & Yong Yin, 2013. "Equilibrium Health Spending and Population Aging in a Model of Endogenous Growth: Will the GDP Share of Health Spending Keep Rising?," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, pages 411-447.
    2. Agénor, Pierre-Richard, 2010. "A theory of infrastructure-led development," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, pages 932-950.
    3. 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).
    4. Holger Strulik & Jacob Weisdorf, 2008. "Birth, Death, and Development: A Simple Unified Growth Theory," Discussion Papers 08-32, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    5. 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.
    6. Tiloka de Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2017. "The Large Fall in Global Fertility: A Quantitative Model," Discussion Papers 1718, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM).
    7. de Silva, Tiloka & Tenreyro, Silvana, 2017. "The large fall in global fertility: A quantitative model," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86157, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Alberto Bucci, 2015. "Product Proliferation, Population, and Economic Growth," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, pages 170-197.
    9. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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