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Global Population Growth, Technology, and Malthusian Constraints: A Quantitative Growth Theoretic Perspective

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  • Bruno Lanz
  • Simon Dietz
  • Tim Swanson

Abstract

How much further will the global population expand, will we exhaust natural land reserves, and what is the role in this story of economic growth? We study the interactions between global population, technological progress, per-capita income, and agricultural land expansion from 1960 to 2100. This provides a first integrative view of future population development in the context of modern growth theory, and thus a novel perspective on a key driver of future resource scarcity. We structurally estimate a two-sector Schumpeterian growth model with endogenous fertility and finite natural land reserves, in which a manufacturing sector provides a consumption good and an agricultural sector provides food to sustain contemporaneous population. The model closely replicates 1960-2010 data on world population, GDP, productivity growth and crop land area, and we employ the model to make projections from 2010 to 2100. Results suggests a slowdown of technological progress, and, because it is the main driver of a transition to a regime with low population growth, significant population growth over the whole century. Global population is slightly below 10 billion by 2050, further growing to 12 billion by 2100. As population and per capita income grow, demand for agricultural output almost doubles over the century, but the land constraint does not bind because of capital investment and technological progress.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno Lanz & Simon Dietz & Tim Swanson, 2015. "Global Population Growth, Technology, and Malthusian Constraints: A Quantitative Growth Theoretic Perspective," EcoMod2015 8380, EcoMod.
  • Handle: RePEc:ekd:008007:8380
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    1. Will global population level off soon?
      by nawmsayn in ZeeConomics on 2014-09-06 02:02:01

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    Cited by:

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    2. Maryia Mandryk & Jonathan Doelman & Elke Stehfest, 2015. "Assessment of global land availability: land supply for agriculture," FOODSECURE Technical papers 7, LEI Wageningen UR.
    3. Lanz, Bruno & Dietz, Simon & Swanson, Tim, 2018. "The Expansion of Modern Agriculture and Global Biodiversity Decline: An Integrated Assessment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 260-277.
    4. Bretschger, Lucas, 2020. "Malthus in the light of climate change," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).
    5. Naso, Pedro & Lanz, Bruno & Swanson, Tim, 2020. "The return of Malthus? Resource constraints in an era of declining population growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
    6. Lucas Bretschger & Karen Pittel, 2020. "Twenty Key Challenges in Environmental and Resource Economics," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 77(4), pages 725-750, December.
    7. Peter K. Kruse-Andersen, 2019. "Directed Technical Change, Environmental Sustainability, and Population Growth," Discussion Papers 19-12, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    8. Lucas Bretschger & Karen Pittel, 2019. "Twenty Key Questions in Environmental and Resource Economics," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 19/328, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Aggregate / global model; Growth; Forecasting; nowcasting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • Q24 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Land

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