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Demographic Change, Relative Factor Prices, International Capital Flows, and Their Differential Effects on the Welfare of Generations

  • Alexander Ludwig
  • Dirk Krueger
  • Axel H. Boersch-Supan

Demographic change has differential impacts on the welfare of current and future generations. In a simple closed economy, aging -- a relative scarcity of young workers -- increases wages, increasing the welfare of the young. At the same time, population aging will reduce rates of return to capital, thereby reducing the welfare of asset holders who are usually older than the population average. In a global world with pension systems, however, these effects are less straightforward, since international capital flows dampen the factor price changes. Moreover, pay-as-you-go pension systems financed by payroll taxes create a wedge between net and gross wages, and their intergenerational redistribution has important additional effects on the welfare of generations. To quantify these effects, we develop a large-scale multi-country overlapping generations model with uninsurable labor productivity and mortality risk. Due to the predicted relative abundance of the factor capital, the rate of return falls between 2005 and 2050 by roughly 90 basis points. Our simulations indicate that capital flows from rapidly ageing regions to the rest of the world will initially be substantial, but that trends are reversed when households de-cumulate savings. In terms of welfare, our model suggests that young individuals with little assets and currently low labor productivity indeed gain from higher wages associated with population aging. Older, asset-rich households tend to loose because of the predicted decline in real returns to capital.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13185.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13185.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
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Publication status: published as Demographic Change, Relative Factor Prices, International Capital Flows, and Their Differential Effects on the Welfare of Generations , Alexander Ludwig, Dirk Krüger, Axel Börsch-Supan. in Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment , Brown, Liebman, and Wise. 2009
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13185
Note: AG PE IFM
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  1. Axel B�rsch-Supan & Alexander Ludwig & Joachim Winter, 2005. "Aging, Pension Reform, and Capital Flows: A Multi-Country Simulation Model," DNB Working Papers 065, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  2. Krueger, Dirk & Ludwig, Alexander, 2007. "On the consequences of demographic change for rates of returns to capital, and the distribution of wealth and welfare," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 49-87, January.
  3. Axel Boersch-Supan & Alexander Ludwig & Joachim Winter, 2001. "Aging and International Capital Flows," NBER Working Papers 8553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Mariacristina De Nardi & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Thomas J. Sargent, 1999. "Projected U.S. Demographics and Social Security," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 575-615, July.
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