IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Child is Father of the Man: by Implications for the Demographic Transition

  • David de la Croix
  • Omar Licandro

We propose a new theory of the demographic transition based on the evidence that body development during childhood is an important predictor of adult life expectancy. Fertility, childhood development, longevity, education and income growth all result from individual decisions. Parents face a trade-off between the number of children they have and the spending they can afford on each of them in childhood. These childhood development spending will determine children longevity when adults. It is in this sense that we refer to Wordsworth’s aphorism that "The Child is Father of the Man." Parents face a second trade-off in allocating their time between increasing their own human capital and rearing children. The model displays different regimes. In a Malthusian regime with no education fertility increases with adult life expectancy. In the modern growth regime, life expectancy and fertility move in opposite directions. The dynamics display the key features of the demographic transition, including the hump in both population growth and fertility, and replicate the observed rise in educational attainment, adult life expectancy and economic growth. Consistent with the empirical evidence, a distinctive implication of our theory is that improvements in childhood development precede the increase in education.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by FEDEA in its series Working Papers with number 2008-04.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fda:fdaddt:2008-04
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Lars Sandberg & Richard H. Steckel, 1997. "Was Industrialization Hazardous to Your Health? Not in Sweden!," NBER Chapters, in: Health and Welfare during Industrialization, pages 127-160 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Matthias Doepke, 2004. "Accounting for Fertility Decline During the Transition to Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 347-383, 09.
  3. Omer Moav, 2005. "Cheap Children and the Persistence of Poverty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 88-110, 01.
  4. David N. Weil, 2005. "Accounting for the Effect of Health on Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 11455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Matteo Cervellati & Uwe Sunde, 2005. "Human Capital Formation, Life Expectancy, and the Process of Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1653-1672, December.
  6. repec:rus:hseeco:71105 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Fogel, Robert W., 1993. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1993-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  8. Boucekkine, Raouf & Germain, Marc & Licandro, Omar, 1997. "Replacement Echoes in the Vintage Capital Growth Model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 333-348, June.
  9. Hazan, Moshe & Zoabi, Hosny, 2005. "Does Longevity Cause Growth?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4931, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Hazan, Moshe, 2006. "Longevity and Lifetime Labour Input: Data and Implications," CEPR Discussion Papers 5963, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Mausumi Das & Shankha Chakraborty, 2010. "Mortality, Human Capital and Persistent Inequality," Working Papers id:2365, eSocialSciences.
  12. DE LA CROIX, David & SOMMACAL, Alessandro, 2006. "A theory of medicine effectiveness, differential mortality, income inequality and growth for pre-industrial England," CORE Discussion Papers 2006045, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  13. Galor, Oded & Weil, David, 1998. "Population, Technology and Growth: From the Malthusian Regime to the Demographic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 1981, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 2006. "The Value of Health and Longevity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(5), pages 871-904, October.
  15. Aisa, Rosa & Pueyo, Fernando, 2006. "Government health spending and growth in a model of endogenous longevity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 249-253, February.
  16. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
  17. Boucekkine, Raouf & Licandro, Omar & Paul, Christopher, 1997. "Differential-difference equations in economics: On the numerical solution of vintage capital growth models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 347-362.
  18. Moshe Hazan & Hosny Zoabi, 2006. "Does longevity cause growth? A theoretical critique," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 363-376, December.
  19. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2001. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2727, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2002. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends, and Endogenous Growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 340-375, June.
  21. Blackburn, Keith & Cipriani, Giam Pietro, 2002. "A model of longevity, fertility and growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 187-204, February.
  22. Shankha Chakraborty, 2002. "Endogenous Lifetime and Economic Growth," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2002-03, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 26 Jan 2002.
  23. Sanso, Marcos & Aisa, Rosa M., 2006. "Endogenous longevity, biological deterioration and economic growth," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 555-578, May.
  24. Roderick Floud, 1984. "The Heights of Europeans Since 1750: A New Source For European Economic History," NBER Working Papers 1318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Baten, Jörg & Komlos, John, 1998. "Height and the Standard of Living," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 866-870, September.
  26. Nils-Petter Lagerlöf, 2003. "From Malthus to Modern Growth: Can Epidemics Explain the Three Regimes?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(2), pages 755-777, 05.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fda:fdaddt:2008-04. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Carmen Arias)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.