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Population Growth and Carbon Emissions

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  • Gregory Casey
  • Oded Galor

Abstract

We provide evidence that lower fertility can simultaneously increase income per capita and lower carbon emissions, eliminating a trade-off central to most policies aimed at slowing global climate change. We estimate the effect of lower fertility on carbon emissions accounting for the fact that changes in fertility patterns affect carbon emissions through three channels: total population, the age structure of the population, and economic output. Our analysis proceeds in two steps. First, we estimate a version of the STIRPAT equation on an unbalanced yearly panel of cross-country data from 1950-2010. We demonstrate that the coefficient on population is nearly seven times larger than the coefficient on income per capita and that this difference is statistically significant. Thus, regression results imply that 1% slower population growth could be accompanied by an increase in income per capita of nearly 7% while still lowering carbon emissions. In the second part of our analysis, we use a recently constructed economic-demographic model of Nigeria to estimate the effect of lower fertility on carbon emissions accounting for the impacts of fertility on population growth, population age structure, and income per capita. The model was constructed to estimate the effect of lower fertility on economic growth, making it well-suited for this application. We find that by 2100 C.E., moving from the medium to the low variant of the UN fertility projection leads to 35% lower yearly emissions and 15% higher income per capita. These results strongly suggest that population policies should be a part of the approach to combating global climate change.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregory Casey & Oded Galor, 2016. "Population Growth and Carbon Emissions," CESifo Working Paper Series 6223, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6223
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Xiaolei Huang & Jinpei Ou & Yingjian Huang & Shun Gao, 2023. "Exploring the Effects of Socioeconomic Factors and Urban Forms on CO 2 Emissions in Shrinking and Growing Cities," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 16(1), pages 1-20, December.
    5. Oluwasogo S. Adediran & Ibiene Benibo & Doris Akinpelumi, 2021. "Biomass Energy Consumption and Economic Growth: An Assessment of the Relevance of Sustainable Development Goal 7 in Nigeria," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 11(6), pages 43-49.
    6. Darwanto Darwanto & Purbayu Budi Santosa & Herniwati Retno Handayani & Jaka Aminata & Fitrie Arianti & Imam Gozhali, 2020. "Does Formal Constraints Reduce CO2 Emissions? Indonesia s Empirical Case," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 10(1), pages 236-241.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    climate change; economics; demography;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General

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