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Global Warming and the Population Externality


  • Stuart, Charles
  • Bohn, Henning


We calculate the harm a birth imposes on others when greenhouse gas emissions are a problem and a cap limits emissions damage. This negative population externality, which equals the corrective Pigovian tax on having a child, is substantial in calibrations. In our base case, the Pigovian tax is 21 percent of a parent's lifetime income in steady state and 5 percent of lifetime income immediately after imposition of a cap, per child. The optimal population in steady state, which maximizes utility taking account of the externality, is about one quarter of the population households would choose voluntarily

Suggested Citation

  • Stuart, Charles & Bohn, Henning, 2011. "Global Warming and the Population Externality," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt82z9c3p6, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt82z9c3p6

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Larry E. Jones & Alice Schoonbroodt & Michèle Tertilt, 2010. "Fertility Theories: Can They Explain the Negative Fertility-Income Relationship?," NBER Chapters,in: Demography and the Economy, pages 43-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ravi Bansal & Amir Yaron, 2004. "Risks for the Long Run: A Potential Resolution of Asset Pricing Puzzles," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1481-1509, August.
    3. Barro, Robert J & Becker, Gary S, 1989. "Fertility Choice in a Model of Economic Growth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 481-501, March.
    4. Larry E. Jones & Alice Schoonbroodt, 2010. "Complements Versus Substitutes And Trends In Fertility Choice In Dynastic Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(3), pages 671-699, August.
    5. Masao Ogaki & Carmen M. Reinhart, 1998. "Measuring Intertemporal Substitution: The Role of Durable Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 1078-1098, October.
    6. Fernando Alvarez, 1999. "Social Mobility: The Barro-Becker Children Meet the Laitner-Loury Dynasties," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 65-103, January.
    7. Kelly, David L. & Kolstad, Charles D., 2001. "Malthus and Climate Change: Betting on a Stable Population," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 135-161, March.
    8. Gary S. Becker & Robert J. Barro, 1988. "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(1), pages 1-25.
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    Blog mentions

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    1. About taxing children for climate change
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-04-04 19:46:00

    More about this item


    population externality; Pigovian tax; emissions cap; endogenous fertility; population growth; economic growth; optimal population; calibrated optimal child tax; greenhouse gas emissions; global warming; Social and Behavioral Sciences;

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