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Global Demography: Fact, Force and Future

In: Demography and Financial Markets

  • David E Bloom

    (Harvard University)

  • David Canning

    (Harvard University)

In the past 50 years, the world accelerated its transition out of long-term demographic stability. As infant and child mortality rates fell, populations began to soar. In most countries, this growth led to falling fertility rates. Although fertility has fallen, the population continues to increase because of population momentum; it will eventually level off. In the meantime, demographic change has created a ‘bulge’ generation, which today appears in many countries as a large working-age population. This cohort will eventually become a large elderly population, in both developed and developing countries. Population growth has been the subject of great debate among economists and demographers. Until recently, most have agreed on a middle ground, in which population growth per se has no effect on economic growth. New evidence suggests that changes in the age structure of populations – in particular, a rising ratio of working-age to non-working-age individuals – leads to the possibility of more rapid economic growth, via both accounting and behavioural effects. The experiences of east Asia, Ireland and sub-Saharan Africa all serve as evidence of the effect of demographic change on economic growth (or lack thereof). Both internal migration (from rural to urban areas) and international migration complicate this picture. The overall implications of population growth for policy lie in the imperative for investments in health and education, and for sound policies related to labour, trade and retirement. Understanding future trends is essential for the development of good policy. Demographic projections can be quite reliable, but huge uncertainties – in the realms of health, changes in human life span, scientific advances, migration, global warming and wars – make overall predictions extremely uncertain.

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This chapter was published in: Christopher Kent & Anna Park & Daniel Rees (ed.) Demography and Financial Markets, Reserve Bank of Australia, pages , 2006.
This item is provided by Reserve Bank of Australia in its series RBA Annual Conference Volume with number acv2006-02.
Handle: RePEc:rba:rbaacv:acv2006-02
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  1. Bloom, David E. & Canning, David & Sevilla, Jaypee, 2004. "The Effect of Health on Economic Growth: A Production Function Approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 1-13, January.
  2. Kulish Mariano & Kent Christopher & Smith Kathryn, 2010. "Aging, Retirement, and Savings: A General Equilibrium Analysis," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-32, July.
  3. David Bloom & David Canning & Rick Mansfield & Michael Moore, 2006. "Demographic Change, Social Security Systems, and Savings," PGDA Working Papers 1906, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  4. David E. Bloom & Richard B. Freeman, 1986. "Population Growth, Labor Supply, and Employment in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 1837, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Jocelyn E. Finlay, 2008. "Demographic Change and Economic Growth in Asia," PGDA Working Papers 4108, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  6. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Michael Moore, 2004. "The Effect of Improvements in Health and Longevity on Optimal Retirement and Saving," NBER Working Papers 10919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Samuel H. Preston, 1996. "American Longevity: Past, Present, and Future," Center for Policy Research Policy Briefs 7, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  8. Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, 2005. "Migration and Development," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 6(2), pages 141-146, April.
  9. Nan Li & Ronald Lee, 2005. "Coherent mortality forecasts for a group of populations: An extension of the lee-carter method," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 575-594, August.
  10. David E. Bloom & David Canning, 2004. "Global demographic change : dimensions and economic significance," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Aug, pages 9-56.
  11. David E. Bloom & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1997. "Demographic Transitions and Economic Miracles in Emerging Asia," NBER Working Papers 6268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. David E. Bloom & David Canning, 2003. "Contraception and the Celtic Tiger," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 34(3), pages 229–247.
  13. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Mark Weston, 2005. "The Value of Vaccination," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 6(3), pages 15-39, July.
  14. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Michael Moore & Younghwan Song, 2006. "The Effect of Subjective Survival Probabilities on Retirement and Wealth in the United States," NBER Working Papers 12688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. David E. Bloom & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1998. "Geography, Demography, and Economic Growth in Africa," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 207-296.
  16. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Bryan Graham, 2003. "Longevity and Life-cycle Savings," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 105(3), pages 319-338, 09.
  17. 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.
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