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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
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of International Economics Volume 92, Supplement 1, April 2014, Pages S2–S21 36th Annual NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics Cover image Measuring the effect of the zero lower bound on yields and exchange rates in the U.K. and Germany ☆ Eric T. Swanson, , E-mail the corresponding author, John C. Williams1,
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19465
Note: AG IFM
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  1. 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.).
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  9. Attanasio Orazio P. & Gianluca Violante, 1999. "Global Demographic Trends and Social Security Reform," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, September.
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  13. 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.
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  16. Robin Brooks, 2003. "Population Aging and Global Capital Flows in a Parallel Universe," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 50(2), pages 3.
  17. 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.
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