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Political dimensions of demographic change: an address

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  • Michael S. Teitelbaum
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    The title of this conference, "Seismic Shifts: The Economic Impact of Demographic Change," might suggest that economic "earthquakes" lie ahead, but while the metaphor is geological, I do not think it was intended to be catastrophically geological. In fact, it is quite appropriate to visualize the demographic trends that we see under way as a kind of "human tectonics"... Of course, geological time spans centuries, millennia, millions of years. By these standards, demographic change that takes place over decades is quite rapid. Yet, by the standards of economic change, demographic change is very slow, gradual, even stately. ; If we embrace the imagery of demography as human tectonics, demographic trends--if left unattended--could produce earthquakes, and such a possibility has given rise to a number of nightmare fantasies. But enough of this geology. ; What I propose to do is to highlight some of the fantasies, often political in purpose, and the empirical facts, and then to tell you what political policy responses might emerge from careful analysis of those facts--responses that are politically difficult and perhaps painful, but less alarming and draconian than those that have been widely promoted by the fantasies.

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    Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its journal Conference Series ; [Proceedings].

    Volume (Year): 46 (2001)
    Issue (Month): ()

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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbcp:y:2001:n:46:x:9
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