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Demography and Low Frequency Capital Flows

  • David Backus
  • Thomas Cooley
  • Espen Henriksen

We consider the causes of international capital flows. Since capital flows are extremely persistent, we argue that their drivers must be persistent, too. We think the most compelling candidates are demographic trends, tfp differences and financial frictions. In this paper we focus primarily on the role of demography in a multi-country overlapping generations model in which saving decisions are tied to agents' life expectancy. Capital flows reflect differences between saving and investment across countries. Demographic changes affect the aggregate accumulation of assets in two ways: by changing life expectancy which changes individual household saving behavior, and by changing the age distribution of the population by which individual household decisions are aggregated. The most important drivers turn out to be increases in life expectancy caused by decreases in adult mortality.We use a quantitative version of the model to illustrate the impact of demography on capital flows and net foreign assets in China, Germany, Japan, and the United States.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19465.

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Date of creation: Sep 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19465
Note: AG IFM
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  1. Domeij, David & Flodén, Martin, 2003. "Population Aging and International Capital Flows," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 539, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 21 Oct 2003.
  2. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2009. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," NBER Working Papers 15093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Holz, Carsten A., 2006. "New capital estimates for China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 142-185.
  4. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 2006. "The U.S. current account deficit and the expected share of world output," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Jun.
  5. Ferrero, Andrea, 2010. "A structural decomposition of the U.S. trade balance: Productivity, demographics and fiscal policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 478-490, May.
  6. Dennis Tao Yang & Junsen Zhang & Shaojie Zhou, 2010. "Why are Saving Rates so High in China?," Working Papers 312010, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
  7. Michael Feroli, 2003. "Capital flows among the G-7 nations: a demographic perspective," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-54, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Coeurdacier, Nicolas & Guibaud, Stéphane & Jin, Keyu, 2012. "Credit Constraints and Growth in a Global Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 9109, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Attanasio, Orazio & Kitao, Sagiri & Violante, Giovanni L., 2007. "Global demographic trends and social security reform," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 144-198, January.
  10. Chamon, Marcos & Prasad, Eswar, 2007. "Why Are Saving Rates of Urban Households in China Rising?," IZA Discussion Papers 3191, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Robin Brooks, 2003. "Population Aging and Global Capital Flows in a Parallel Universe," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 50(2), pages 3.
  12. Gary Hansen & Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2008. "Consumption over the Life Cycle: The Role of Annuities," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(3), pages 566-583, July.
  13. Lee E. Ohanian & Mark L. J. Wright, 2010. "Capital Flows and Macroeconomic Performance: Lessons from the Golden Era of International Finance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 68-72, May.
  14. Ronald Lee & Timothy Miller, 2001. "Evaluating the performance of the lee-carter method for forecasting mortality," Demography, Springer, vol. 38(4), pages 537-549, November.
  15. Carter, Lawrence R. & Lee, Ronald D., 1992. "Modeling and forecasting US sex differentials in mortality," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 393-411, November.
  16. John Bongaarts, 2004. "Population Aging and the Rising Cost of Public Pensions," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(1), pages 1-23.
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