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Finite-time singularity in the dynamics of the world population, economic and financial indices

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  • Johansen, Anders
  • Sornette, Didier

Abstract

Contrary to common belief, both the Earth's human population and its economic output have grown faster than exponential, i.e., in a super-Malthusian mode, for most of the known history. These growth rates are compatible with a spontaneous singularity occurring at the same critical time 2052±10 signaling an abrupt transition to a new regime. The degree of abruptness can be infered from the fact that the maximum of the world population growth rate was reached in 1970, i.e., about 80 years before the predicted singular time, corresponding to approximately 4% of the studied time interval over which the acceleration is documented. This rounding-off of the finite-time singularity is probably due to a combination of well-known finite-size effects and friction and suggests that we have already entered the transition region to a new regime. As theoretical support, a multivariate analysis coupling population, capital, R&D and technology shows that a dramatic acceleration in the population growth during most of the timespan can occur even though the isolated dynamics do not exhibit it. Possible scenarios for the cross-over and the new regime are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Johansen, Anders & Sornette, Didier, 2001. "Finite-time singularity in the dynamics of the world population, economic and financial indices," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 294(3), pages 465-502.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:294:y:2001:i:3:p:465-502
    DOI: 10.1016/S0378-4371(01)00105-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sornette, Didier & Johansen, Anders, 1997. "Large financial crashes," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 245(3), pages 411-422.
    2. Anders Johansen & Didier Sornette, 1999. "Critical Crashes," Papers cond-mat/9901035, arXiv.org.
    3. Rietz, Thomas A., 1988. "The equity risk premium a solution," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 117-131, July.
    4. Michael Kremer, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716.
    5. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1988. "The equity risk premium: A solution?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 133-136, July.
    6. Anders Johansen & Didier Sornette, 2000. "The Nasdaq crash of April 2000: Yet another example of log-periodicity in a speculative bubble ending in a crash," Papers cond-mat/0004263, arXiv.org, revised May 2000.
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