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The Cost of Low Fertility in Europe

Author

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  • David E. Bloom
  • David Canning
  • Günther Fink
  • Jocelyn E. Finlay

Abstract

We analyze the effect of fertility on income per capita with a particular focus on the experience of Europe. For European countries with below-replacement fertility, the cost of continued low fertility will only be observed in the long run. We show that in the short run, a fall in the fertility rate will lower the youth dependency ratio and increase the working-age share, thus raising income per capita. In the long run, however, the burden of old-age dependency dominates the youth dependency decline, and continued low fertility will lead to small working-age shares in the absence of large migration inflows. We show that the currently very high working-age shares generated by the recent declines in fertility and migration inflows are not sustainable, and that significant drops in the relative size of the working-age population should be expected. Without substantial adjustments in labor force participation or migration policies, the potential negative repercussions on the European economy are large.

Suggested Citation

  • David E. Bloom & David Canning & Günther Fink & Jocelyn E. Finlay, 2009. "The Cost of Low Fertility in Europe," NBER Working Papers 14820, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14820
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Günther Fink, 2010. "Implications of population ageing for economic growth," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(4), pages 583-612, Winter.
    2. Bloom, David E. & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, 2010. "Economic consequences of low fertility in Europe," FZID Discussion Papers 11-2010, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
    3. Stefan Bauernschuster & Timo Hener & Helmut Rainer, 2013. "Does Expanding Public Child Care Encourage Fertility? County-Level Evidence from Germany," ifo Working Paper Series 158, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    4. Vistesen, Claus, 2009. "Ageing and Export Dependency," MPRA Paper 17655, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Jocelyn E. Finlay, 2010. "Population Aging and Economic Growth in Asia," NBER Chapters,in: The Economic Consequences of Demographic Change in East Asia, NBER-EASE Volume 19, pages 61-89 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Brainerd, Elizabeth, 2010. "The Demographic Transformation of Post-Socialist Countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 015, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    7. Erich Striessnig & Wolfgang Lutz, 2013. "Can below-replacement fertility be desirable?," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 40(3), pages 409-425, August.
    8. Bauernschuster, Stefan & Hener, Timo & Rainer, Helmut, 2013. "Does the Expansion of Public Child Care Increase Birth Rates? Evidence from a Low-Fertility Country," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79909, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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