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Demographic Dividends Revisited

  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

    (Laird Bell Professor of Economics, emeritus, of Harvard University and an Honorary Fellow of the Economics Department at the University of Wisconsin)

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    This paper revisits demographic dividend issues after almost 2 decades of debate. In 1998, David Bloom and I used a convergence model to estimate the impact of demographic-transition-driven age structure effects and calculated what the literature has come to call the “demographic dividend.” These early estimates seem to be similar to those coming from more recent overlapping generation models, when properly estimated. Research has shown that the demographic dividend is not simply a labor participation rate effect, but also a growth effect. Life-cycle savings, investment deepening, foreign capital flows, and schooling have all been greatly affected by the demographic transition. The paper discusses just how much of these positive growth effects are based on accelerating human capital accumulation induced by demand-side quality–quantity trade-offs versus a co-movement between demographic transitions and public schooling supply-side expansions. Since emigration has been driven in part by demography, it has wasted some of the demographic dividend by brain drain. In addition, within-country rural–urban migrations have also been driven in part by demographic transitions with different spatial timing. Finally, the paper shows how lifetime—not just annual—income inequality has been influenced by demographic transitions. © 2013 Asian Development Bank and Asian Development Bank Institute.

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    Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Asian Development Review.

    Volume (Year): 30 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 2 (September)
    Pages: 1-25

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    Handle: RePEc:tpr:adbadr:v:30:y:2013:i:2:p:1-25
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