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From Malthus to Modern Growth: Can Epidemics Explain the Three Regimes?


  • Lagerlöf, Nils-Petter

    (Concordia University)


These are the stylized facts of long-run economic and demographic development, as described by Galor and Weil (AER 1999, 2000): Under an initial Malthusian Regime the growth rates of population and per-capita income are both low. Then follows a Post-Malthusian Regime, with higher growth rates of both population and per-capita income. Finally, the economy transits into a Modern Growth Regime, with falling population growth rates, but accelerated growth rates of per-capita inocme. This paper models the transition through all these three regimes endogenously. The model also captures the empirical regularity of a simultaneous fall in the level and the volatility of death rates, and the fact that death rates fell before birth rates. Throughout time, we let epidemic shocks hit the economy at a constant rate. However, with rising human capital the impact of these shocks is mitigated. For many generations the economy is stuck in a Malthusian Regime with volatile and high death rates. Sooner or later it experiences a phase of relatively mild epidemics. Mortality declines, enabling population and human capital to simultaneously start growing: a Post-Malthusian Regime. Once human capital growth has taken off, epidemic shocks have smaller impact. Finally comes a stage where parents start having fewer children, and instead invest more in their education: a quality-quantity switch. This triggers faster growth in human capital. The economy enters the Modern Growth Regime.

Suggested Citation

  • Lagerlöf, Nils-Petter, 2001. "From Malthus to Modern Growth: Can Epidemics Explain the Three Regimes?," Arbetsrapport 2001:1, Institute for Futures Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifswps:2001_001 Note: ISBN 91-89655-14-1

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    Cited by:

    1. Westholm, Erik, 2004. "Modes of re-territorialisation. Spatial implications of regional competition politics in Sweden," Arbetsrapport 2004:4, Institute for Futures Studies.
    2. Lindh, Thomas & Malmberg, Bo, 2002. "Swedish post-war economic development. The role of age structure in a welfare state," Arbetsrapport 2003:4, Institute for Futures Studies.
    3. Westholm, Erik, 2003. "Leaving Rurality Behind. Re-orientation of spatial policies in Sweden," Arbetsrapport 2003:12, Institute for Futures Studies.
    4. Ström, Sara, 2005. "Childbearing and psycho-social work life conditions in Sweden 1991-2000," Arbetsrapport 2005:13, Institute for Futures Studies.
    5. Rydell, Ingrid, 2002. "Demographic Patterns from the 1960s in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal," Arbetsrapport 2003:2, Institute for Futures Studies.
    6. Duvander, Ann-Zofie & Ferrarini, Tommy & Thalberg, Sara, 2005. "Swedish parental leave and gender equality - Achievements and reform challenges in a European perspective," Arbetsrapport 2005:11, Institute for Futures Studies.
    7. Bäckman, Olof, 2005. "Welfare States, Social Structure and the Dynamics of Poverty Rates. A comparative study of 16 countries, 1980-2000," Arbetsrapport 2005:7, Institute for Futures Studies.
    8. Thalberg, Sara, 2003. "Demographic Patterns in Europe. A review of Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania," Arbetsrapport 2003:8, Institute for Futures Studies.
    9. Lundqvist, Torbjörn, 2005. "The Employers in the Swedish Model The Importance of Labour Market Competition and Organisation," Arbetsrapport 2005:2, Institute for Futures Studies.
    10. Blomquist, Sören & Christiansen, Vidar, 2004. "Welfare Enhancing Marginal Tax Rates: The Case of Publicly Provided Day Care," Arbetsrapport 2004:6, Institute for Futures Studies.
    11. Hong, Ying & Corman, Diana, 2005. "Women´s Return to Work after First Birth in Sweden during 1980-2000," Arbetsrapport 2005:19, Institute for Futures Studies.

    More about this item


    Malthus; population; income;

    JEL classification:

    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General


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