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The Dynamics of the Age Structure, Dependency, and Consumption

  • Heinrich Hock
  • David N. Weil

We examine the dynamic interaction of the population age structure, economic dependency, and fertility, paying particular attention to the role of intergenerational transfers. In the short run, a reduction in fertility produces a %u201Cdemographic dividend%u201D that allows for higher consumption. In the long run, however, higher old-age dependency can more than offset this effect. To analyze these dynamics we develop a highly tractable continuous-time overlapping generations model in which population is divided into three groups (young, working age, and old) and transitions between groups take place in a probabilistic fashion. We show that most highly developed countries have fertility below the rate that maximizes steady state consumption. Further, the dependency-minimizing response to increased longevity is to raise fertility. In the face of the high taxes required to support transfers to a growing aged population, we demonstrate that the actual response of fertility will likely be exactly the opposite, leading to increased population aging.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12140.

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Date of creation: Apr 2006
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Publication status: published as Heinrich Hock & David Weil, 2012. "On the dynamics of the age structure, dependency, and consumption," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 1019-1043, July.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12140
Note: AG PE
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  1. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Jaypee Sevilla, 2001. "Economic Growth and the Demographic Transition," NBER Working Papers 8685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Andrew Mason & Ronald Lee & An-Chi Tung & Mun-Sim Lai & Tim Miller, 2009. "Population Aging and Intergenerational Transfers: Introducing Age into National Accounts," NBER Chapters, in: Developments in the Economics of Aging, pages 89-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. Gertler, Mark, 1997. "Government Debt and Social Security in a Life-Cycle Economy," Working Papers 97-14, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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  13. Maja B. Micevska & Paul J. Zak, 2002. "What Accounts for the Emergence of Malthusian Fertility in Transition Economies?," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2002-01, Claremont Colleges.
  14. Kyung-Mook Lim & David N. Weil, 2003. "The Baby Boom and the Stock Market Boom," Working Papers 2003-07, Brown University, Department of Economics.
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  16. van Groezen, Bas & Leers, Theo & Meijdam, Lex, 2003. "Social security and endogenous fertility: pensions and child allowances as siamese twins," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 233-251, February.
  17. Almudena Sevilla-Sanz & Joost de Laat, 2007. "Working Women, Men`s Home Time and Lowest Low Fertility," Economics Series Working Papers 308, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  18. Alicia Adsera, 2005. "Vanishing Children: From High Unemployment to Low Fertility in Developed Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 189-193, May.
  19. Dominik Grafenhofer & Christian Jaag & Christian Keuschnigg & Mirela Keuschnigg, 2007. "Economic ageing and demographic change," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 5(1), pages 133-165.
  20. Cigno, Alessandro, 1992. "Children and Pensions," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 175-83, August.
  21. Dominik Grafenhofer & Christian Jaag & Christian Keuschnigg & Mirela Keuschnigg, 2006. "Probabilistic Aging," CESifo Working Paper Series 1680, CESifo Group Munich.
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  24. Cutler, D.M. & Poterba, J.M. & Sheiner, L.M. & Summers, L.H., 1990. "An Aging Society: Opportunity Or Challenge," Working papers 553, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  25. Douglas W. Elmendorf & Louise M. Sheiner, 2000. "Should America Save for Its Old Age? Fiscal Policy, Population Aging, and National Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 57-74, Summer.
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