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"The Falling Sperm Counts Story": A Limit to Growth?

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Abstract

We develop an overlapping generations model of growth, in which agents differ through their ability to procreate. Based on epidemiological evidence, we assume that pollution is a cause of this health heterogeneity, affecting sperm quality. Nevertheless, agents with impaired fertility may incur health treatments in order to increase their chances of parenthood. In this set-up, we analyse the dynamic behaviour of the economy and characterise the situation reached in the long run. Then, we determine the optimal solution that prevails when a social planner maximises a Millian utilitarian criterion and propose a set of available economic instruments to decentralise the optimal solution. We underscore that to correct for both the externalities of pollution and the induced-health inefficiency, it is necessary to tax physical capital while it requires to overall subsidy mostly harmed agents within the economy. Hence, we argue that fighting against the sources of an altered reproductive health is more relevant than directly inciting agents to incur health treatments.

Suggested Citation

  • Johanna Etner & Natacha Raffin & Thomas Seegmuller, 2016. ""The Falling Sperm Counts Story": A Limit to Growth?," AMSE Working Papers 1625, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France, revised 04 Jul 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:aim:wpaimx:1625
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mariani, Fabio & Pérez-Barahona, Agustín & Raffin, Natacha, 2010. "Life expectancy and the environment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 798-815, April.
    2. Natacha Raffin & Thomas Seegmuller, 2017. "The Cost of Pollution on Longevity, Welfare and Economic Stability," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 68(3), pages 683-704, November.
    3. X. Pautrel, 2008. "Reconsidering the Impact of the Environment on Long-run Growth when Pollution Influences Health and Agents have a Finite-lifetime," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 40(1), pages 37-52, May.
    4. Thomas Baudin & David de la Croix & Paula E. Gobbi, 2015. "Fertility and Childlessness in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(6), pages 1852-1882, June.
    5. Thomas Baudin & David de la Croix & Paula E. Gobbi, 2015. "Fertility and Childlessness in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(6), pages 1852-1882, June.
    6. Raffin, Natacha & Seegmuller, Thomas, 2014. "Longevity, pollution and growth," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 22-33.
    7. Williams, Roberton III, 2002. "Environmental Tax Interactions when Pollution Affects Health or Productivity," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 261-270, September.
    8. Paula Gobbi, 2013. "A model of voluntary childlessness," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 963-982, July.
    9. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
    10. Williams III, Roberton C., 2003. "Health effects and optimal environmental taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 323-335, February.
    11. Natacha Raffin, 2012. "Childrens environmental health, education, and economic development," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 45(3), pages 996-1022, August.
    12. Momota, Akira, 2016. "Intensive and extensive margins of fertility, capital accumulation, and economic welfare," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 90-110.
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    Keywords

    Pollution; Growth; Fertility; Health.;

    JEL classification:

    • O44 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Environment and Growth
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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