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Global population growth, technology, and Malthusian constraints: a quantitative growth theoretic perspective

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  • Bruno Lanz
  • Simon Diet
  • Tim Swanson

Abstract

We study the interactions between global population, technological progress, per capita income, the demand for food, and agricultural land expansion over the period 1960 to 2100. We formulate a two-sector Schumpeterian growth model with a Barro-Becker representation of endogenous fertility. A manufacturing sector provides a consumption good and an agricultural sector provides food to sustain contemporaneous population. Total land area available for agricultural production is finite, and the marginal cost of agricultural land conversion is increasing with the amount of land already converted, creating a potential constraint to population growth. Using 1960 to 2010 data on world population, GDP, total factor productivity growth and crop land area, we structurally estimate the parameters determining the cost of fertility, technological progress and land conversion. The model closely fits observed trajectories, and we employ the model to make projections from 2010 to 2100. Our results suggest a population slightly below 10 billion by 2050, further growing to 12 billion by 2100. As population and per capita income grow, the demand for agricultural output increases by almost 70% in 2050 relative to 2010. However, agricultural land area stabilizes by 2050 at roughly 10 percent above the 2010 level: growth in agricultural output mainly relies on technological progress and capital accumulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno Lanz & Simon Diet & Tim Swanson, 2014. "Global population growth, technology, and Malthusian constraints: a quantitative growth theoretic perspective," GRI Working Papers 161, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  • Handle: RePEc:lsg:lsgwps:wp161
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Maryia Mandryk & Jonathan Doelman & Elke Stehfest, 2015. "Assessment of global land availability: land supply for agriculture," FOODSECURE Technical papers 7, LEI Wageningen UR.
    2. repec:eee:ecolec:v:144:y:2018:i:c:p:260-277 is not listed on IDEAS
    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.

    More about this item

    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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