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Assessing Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion within a canonical endogenous growth set-up

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  • Raouf Boucekkine

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  • Giorgio Fabbri

Abstract

Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion stipulates that under total utilitarianism, it might be optimal to choose increasing population size while consumption per capita goes to zero. We evaluate this claim within a canonical AK model with endogenous population size and a reduced form relationship between demographic and economic growth. First we characterize the optimal solution paths for any capital dilution function. Second, we prove that while the Repugnant Conclusion can never occur for realistic values of intertemporal substitution in the traditional linear dilution model, it does occur when population growth is linked to economic growth via an inverted U-shaped relationship. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Raouf Boucekkine & Giorgio Fabbri, 2013. "Assessing Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion within a canonical endogenous growth set-up," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 751-767, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:26:y:2013:i:2:p:751-767
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-011-0384-6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kenneth Arrow & Partha Dasgupta & Lawrence Goulder & Gretchen Daily & Paul Ehrlich & Geoffrey Heal & Simon Levin & Karl-Göran Mäler & Stephen Schneider & David Starrett & Brian Walker, 2004. "Are We Consuming Too Much?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 147-172, Summer.
    2. Palivos, Theodore & Yip, Chong K., 1993. "Optimal population size and endogenous growth," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 107-110.
    3. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2002. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends, and Endogenous Growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 340-375, June.
    4. Holger Strulik, 2005. "The Role of Human Capital and Population Growth in R&D-based Models of Economic Growth," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(1), pages 129-145, February.
    5. Bucci, Alberto, 2008. "Population growth in a model of economic growth with human capital accumulation and horizontal R&D," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 1124-1147, September.
    6. Kelley, Allen C, 1988. "Economic Consequences of Population Change in the Third World," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(4), pages 1685-1728, December.
    7. Razin, Assaf & Yuen, Chi-Wa, 1995. "Utilitarian Tradeoff between Population Growth and Income Growth," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 8(1), pages 81-87, February.
    8. Allen Kelley & Robert Schmidt, 1995. "Aggregate population and economic growth correlations: The role of the components of demographic change," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 32(4), pages 543-555, November.
    9. Kelley, Allen C. & Schmidt, Robert M., 1995. "Aggregate Population and Economic Growth Correlations: The Role of the Components of Demographic Change," Working Papers 95-37, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    10. Marc Nerlove & Assaf Razin & Efraim Sadka, 1985. "Population Size: Individual Choice and Social Optima," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(2), pages 321-334.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Pérez-Nievas, Mikel & Conde-Ruiz, José I. & Giménez, Eduardo L., 0. "Efficiency and endogenous fertility," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society.
    2. Boucekkine, R. & Fabbri, G. & Gozzi, F., 2014. "Egalitarianism under population change: Age structure does matter," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 86-100.
    3. Raouf Boucekkine & Giorgio Fabbri & Fausto Gozzi, 2012. "Egalitarism under Population Change: The Role of Growth and Lifetime Span," Working Papers halshs-00793188, HAL.
    4. repec:bpj:bejmac:v:17:y:2017:i:1:p:17:n:8 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Grégory Ponthière, 2015. "Utilitarian population ethics and births timing," Working Papers halshs-01207185, HAL.
    6. repec:spr:jopoec:v:31:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s00148-017-0665-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Boucekkine, R. & Martínez, B. & Ruiz-Tamarit, J.R., 2013. "Growth vs. level effect of population change on economic development: An inspection into human-capital-related mechanisms," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 312-334.
    8. Gregory Ponthiere, 2016. "Utilitarian population ethics and births timing," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 189-238, April.
    9. Raouf Boucekkine & Blanca Martínez & José Ramón Ruiz-Tamarit, 2017. "Optimal Population Growth as an Endogenous Discounting Problem: The Ramsey Case," Working Papers halshs-01579155, HAL.
    10. Bharat Diwakar & Gilad Sorek, 2016. "Human-Capital Spillover, Population, and Economic Growth," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2016-02, Department of Economics, Auburn University.
    11. Stelter, Robert, 2014. "Over-aging - Are present human populations too old?," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100334, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    12. repec:bla:scotjp:v:64:y:2017:i:3:p:263-282 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Marsiglio, Simone, 2014. "Reassessing Edgeworth’s conjecture when population dynamics is stochastic," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 130-140.
    14. Stelter, Robert, 2016. "Over-aging — Are present-day human populations too old?," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 116-143.
    15. Kohei Kamaga, 2016. "Infinite-horizon social evaluation with variable population size," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 47(1), pages 207-232, June.
    16. repec:spr:annopr:v:251:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10479-015-1837-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Alberto Bucci, 2015. "Product Proliferation, Population, and Economic Growth," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 170-197.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Parfit’s Repugnant conclusion; Endogenous population size; Intertemporal altruism; O41; I20; J10;

    JEL classification:

    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General

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