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Do High Birth Rates Hamper Economic Growth?


  • Hongbin Li

    (Hongbin Li is assistant professor of economics in the Department of Economics and the Institute of Economics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong)

  • Junsen Zhang

    (Junsen Zhang is professor of economics in the Department of Economics and the Institute of Economics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong)


This paper examines the impact of the birth rate on economic growth by using a panel data set of 28 provinces in China over twenty years. Because China's one-child policy applied only to the Han Chinese but not to minorities, this unique affirmative policy allows us to use the proportion of minorities in a province as an instrumental variable to identify the causal effect of the birth rate on economic growth. We find that the birth rate has a negative impact on economic growth. The finding not only supports the view of Malthus, but also suggests that China's birth control policy is indeed growth enhancing. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Hongbin Li & Junsen Zhang, 2007. "Do High Birth Rates Hamper Economic Growth?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 110-117, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:89:y:2007:i:1:p:110-117

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