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Is low fertility really a problem? Population aging, dependency, and consumption


  • Ronald Lee

    (Department of Demography, Department of Economics)

  • A. Mason

    (Department of Economics - UHM - University of Hawai‘i [Mānoa], East-West Center)

  • E. Amporfu
  • C.-B. An
  • L. R. Bixby
  • J. Bravo

    (Faculty of Medicine - UCHILE - Universidad de Chile = University of Chile [Santiago])

  • M. Bucheli
  • Q. Chen

    (Institute for Electronic Design Automation - Institute for Electronic Design Automation, Institute for Nanoelectronics - Institute for Nanoelectronics)

  • P. Comelatto
  • D. Coy
  • Hippolyte d'Albis

    () (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne, PSE - Paris School of Economics)

  • G. Donehower
  • L. Dramani
  • A. Furnkranz-Prskawetz
  • R. I. Gal
  • M. Holz
  • N. T. L. Huong

    (Department of Paediatric Nephrology - Paediatric National Hospital, Hanoï Medical University)

  • F. Kluge

    (ICS - Institute of Computer Science - University of Augsburg - Universität Augsburg [Augsburg])

  • L. Ladusingh
  • S.-H. Lee
  • T. Lindh

    (Institute for Futures Studies - Institute for Futures Studies)

  • L. Ling
  • G. T. Long

    (Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Missouri - University of Missouri [St. Louis] - University of Missouri System)

  • R. Matsukura
  • D. Mccarthy

    (Monash University [Malaysia])

  • I. Mejia-Guevara
  • T. Mergo
  • T. Miller
  • G. Mwabu
  • M. R. Narayana
  • V. Nor
  • G. M. Norte
  • N. Ogawa

    (IFREE - Institute for Research on Earth Evolution [Yokosuka] - JAMSTEC - Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology)

  • O. A. Olaniyan
  • J. Olivera
  • M. Oosthuizen
  • M. Phananiramai
  • B. L. Queiroz
  • R. H. Racelis
  • E. Renteria
  • J. M. Rice

    (Washington University School of Medicine - Washington University School of Medicine)

  • J. Sambt
  • A. Seckin
  • J. Sefton
  • A. Soyibo
  • J. A. Tovar
  • A.-C. Tung
  • C. M. Turra
  • B. P. Urdinola
  • R. Vaittinen
  • R. Vanne
  • M. Zannella
  • Q. Zhang


Longer lives and fertility far below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman are leading to rapid population aging in many countries. Many observers are concerned that aging will adversely affect public finances and standards of living. Analysis of newly available National Transfer Accounts data for 40 countries shows that fertility well above replacement would typically be most beneficial for government budgets. However, fertility near replacement would be most beneficial for standards of living when the analysis includes the effects of age structure on families as well as governments. And fertility below replacement would maximize per capita consumption when the cost of providing capital for a growing labor force is taken into account. Although low fertility will indeed challenge government programs and very low fertility undermines living standards, we find that moderately low fertility and population decline favor the broader material standard of living.

Suggested Citation

  • Ronald Lee & A. Mason & E. Amporfu & C.-B. An & L. R. Bixby & J. Bravo & M. Bucheli & Q. Chen & P. Comelatto & D. Coy & Hippolyte d'Albis & G. Donehower & L. Dramani & A. Furnkranz-Prskawetz & R. I. G, 2014. "Is low fertility really a problem? Population aging, dependency, and consumption," PSE-Ecole d'économie de Paris (Postprint) hal-01075298, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseptp:hal-01075298
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1250542
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server:

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Kuhn & Klaus Prettner, 2015. "Population Structure and Consumption Growth: Evidence from National Transfer Accounts," VID Working Papers 1503, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.
    2. d’Albis, Hippolyte & Boubtane, Ekrame & Coulibaly, Dramane, 2019. "Immigration and public finances in OECD countries," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 116-151.
    3. Ahmed, S. Amer & Vargas Da Cruz,Marcio Jose & Quillin,Bryce Ramsey & Schellekens,Philip, 2016. "Demographic change and development : a global typology," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7893, The World Bank.
    4. Mason, Andrew & Lee, Ronald & Jiang, Jennifer Xue, 2016. "Demographic dividends, human capital, and saving," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 7(C), pages 106-122.
    5. Chen, Xi & Eggleston, Karen & Sun, Ang, 2018. "The impact of social pensions on intergenerational relationships: Comparative evidence from China," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 225-235.
    6. Legge, Stefan, 2016. "Innovation in an Aging Population," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145590, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    7. Miyazawa, Kazutoshi, 2016. "Grandparental child care, child allowances, and fertility," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 7(C), pages 53-60.
    8. Kravdal, Øystein, 2016. "Expected and unexpected consequences of childbearing – a methodologically and politically important distinction that is overlooked," Memorandum 05/2016, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    9. Liu, Antung A. & Linn, Joshua & Qin, Ping & Yang, Jun, 2018. "Vehicle ownership restrictions and fertility in Beijing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 85-96.
    10. Lee, R., 2016. "Macroeconomics, Aging, and Growth," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.),Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 59-118, Elsevier.
    11. Georges, Patrick & Seçkin, Aylin, 2016. "From pro-natalist rhetoric to population policies in Turkey? An OLG general equilibrium analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 79-93.
    12. Ha, Joonkyung & Lee, Sang-Hyop, 2016. "Demographic dividend and Asia’s economic convergence towards the US," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 8(C), pages 28-41.
    13. Yukio Fukumoto & Tomoko Kinugasa, 2017. "Age Structure and Trade Openness: An Empirical Investigation," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(6), pages 1247-1263, June.
    14. Sarah R. Brauner-Otto & Claudia Geist, 2018. "Uncertainty, Doubts, and Delays: Economic Circumstances and Childbearing Expectations Among Emerging Adults," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 88-102, March.
    15. Elias Ganivet, 2020. "Growth in human population and consumption both need to be addressed to reach an ecologically sustainable future," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 22(6), pages 4979-4998, August.


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