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Understanding the New Normal : The Role of Demographics

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Abstract

Since the onset of the Great Recession, the U.S. economy has experienced low real GDP growth and low real interest rates, including for long maturities. We show that these developments were largely predictable by calibrating an overlapping-generation model with a rich demographic structure to observed and projected changes in U.S. population, family composition, life expectancy, and labor market activity. The model accounts for a 1?percentage point decline in both real GDP growth and the equilibrium real interest rate since 1980?essentially all of the permanent declines in those variables according to some recent estimates. The model also implies that these declines were especially pronounced over the past decade or so because of demographic factors most-directly associated with the baby boom and the passing of the information technology boom. Our results further suggest that real GDP growth and real interest rates will remain low in coming decades, consistent with the U.S economy having reached a ?new normal.?

Suggested Citation

  • Etienne Gagnon & Benjamin K. Johannsen & J. David López-Salido, 2016. "Understanding the New Normal : The Role of Demographics," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2016-080, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2016-80
    DOI: 10.17016/FEDS.2016.080
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    File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/feds/2016/files/2016080pap.pdf
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    1. Martin Browning & Mette Ejrnæs, 2009. "Consumption and Children," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 93-111, February.
    2. Benjamin K. Johannsen & Elmar Mertens, 2016. "The Expected Real Interest Rate in the Long Run : Time Series Evidence with the Effective Lower Bound," FEDS Notes 2016-02-09, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Demographics; Equilibrium real interest rate; GDP growth; New normal;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E17 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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