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The Politics of Fertility and Economic Development

  • Yi Feng

    (Claremont Graduate University)

  • Jacek Kugler

    (Claremont Graduate University)

  • Paul Zak

    (Claremont Graduate University)

This paper presents a formal model that characterizes the two faces of development - persistent poverty, as well as industrialization and rising incomes - and establishes that the interaction between politics and economics determines which path a nation travels. We demonstrate that political factors affect fertility decisions so that a one-time disturbance compounds across generations, impacting a country's entire development trajectory. Modeling strategic multi-objective policy-setting by the government, we derive a new concept of political capacity and prove that a sufficient amount of political capacity is necessary to escape a poverty trap and develop the economy. Empirical tests for a sample of 100 countries from 1960 to 1990 provide strong support for the predictions of the formal model. In particular, we show that both political stability and political capacity significantly influence birth rates. We conclude that politics can be either a stimulant or barrier to economic development.

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Paper provided by Claremont Colleges in its series Claremont Colleges Working Papers with number 1999-36.

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Handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:1999-36
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  1. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert F. Tamura, 1990. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Magee,Stephen P. & Brock,William A. & Young,Leslie, 1989. "Black Hole Tariffs and Endogenous Policy Theory," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521362474, October.
  3. Chen, Baizhu & Feng, Yi, 1996. "Some political determinants of economic growth: Theory and empirical implications," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 609-627, December.
  4. Galor, Oded & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1997. " The Distribution of Human Capital and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 93-124, March.
  5. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  6. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  7. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1995. "Technological Diffusion, Convergence, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1976. "Child Endowments, and the Quantity and Quality of Children," NBER Working Papers 0123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. John Cawley & Karen Conneely & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1996. "Cognitive Ability, Wages, and Meritocracy," NBER Working Papers 5645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Hanushek, Eric A, 1992. "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 84-117, February.
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