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Life and Growth

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  • Charles I. Jones

Abstract

Some technologies save lives -- new vaccines, new surgical techniques, safer highways. Others threaten lives -- pollution, nuclear accidents, global warming, the rapid global transmission of disease, and bioengineered viruses. How is growth theory altered when technologies involve life and death instead of just higher consumption? This paper shows that taking life into account has first-order consequences. Under standard preferences, the value of life may rise faster than consumption, leading society to value safety over consumption growth. As a result, the optimal rate of consumption growth may be substantially lower than what is feasible, in some cases falling all the way to zero.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles I. Jones, 2011. "Life and Growth," NBER Working Papers 17094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17094
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    Cited by:

    1. Fouquet, Roger, 2011. "Long run trends in energy-related external costs," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(12), pages 2380-2389.
    2. Carter, Patrick, 2014. "Aid allocation rules," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 132-151.
    3. Maik T. Schneider & Ralph Winkler, 2010. "Growth and Welfare under Endogenous Lifetime," Diskussionsschriften dp1013, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    4. Kuhn, Michael & Frankovic, Ivan & Wrzaczek, Stefan, 2017. "Medical Progress, Demand for Health Care, and Economic Performance," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168249, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Ivan Frankovic & Michael Kuhn & Stefan Wrzaczek, 2016. "Medical Care within an OLG Economy with Realistic Demography," VID Working Papers 1603, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.
    6. David Hummels & Jakob Munch & Chong Xiang, 2016. "No Pain, No Gain: The Effects of Exports on Effort, Injury, and Illness," NBER Working Papers 22365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Böhm, Sebastian & Grossmann, Volker & Strulik, Holger, 2017. "The Future of Human Health, Longevity, and Health Costs," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168288, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Li-Shiun Chen & Ping Wang & Yao Yao, 2017. "Smoking, Health Capital, and Longevity: Evaluation of Personalized Cessation Treatments in a Lifecycle Model with Heterogeneous Agents," NBER Working Papers 23820, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Böhm, Sebastian & Grossmann, Volker & Strulik, Holger, 2017. "R&D-driven medical progess, health care costs, and the future of human longevity," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 325, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    10. Matthew A. Cole & Andrea Lucchesi, 2014. "Economic growth and the environment," Chapters,in: Handbook of Sustainable Development, chapter 16, pages 252-266 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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