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Generational Conflict, Human Capital Accumulation, and Economic Growth

  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin
  • Mary E. Lovely
  • Mehmet S. Tosun

Worldwide, dependency ratios are forecast to increase dramatically in the next 50 years. A great deal of attention has been devoted to understanding the changes in fiscal policies that must' take place to accommodate these changes. In contrast, less effort has been concentrated on studying the fiscal shifts that will endogenously result from demographic pressures. An example of particular interest is the degree to which a more elderly population will support public spending for education. We use an overlapping-generations model to investigate the effect of this demographic transition on the endogenous determination of public spending for education. A demographic transition alters the identity of the median voter, leading to a preference for less education spending. If the public sector is inefficiently small, demographic transition exacerbates the underprovision of human capital. Alternatively, such a shift may trim an inefficiently large government, reduce tax rates and raise capital per worker enough to raise education spending. Thus, there is no automatic link between demographic transition and reduced support for those programs whose benefits are concentrated among the young.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7762.

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Date of creation: Jun 2000
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Publication status: Published as "Solow and States: Capital Accumulation, Productivity, and Economic Growth", National Tax Journal, Vol. 46, no. 4 (1993): 425-439.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7762
Note: PE
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  1. Cutler, D.M. & Poterba, J.M. & Sheiner, L.M. & Summers, L.H., 1990. "An Aging Society: Opportunity Or Challenge," Working papers 553, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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  6. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E., 1996. "Ends against the middle: Determining public service provision when there are private alternatives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 297-325, November.
  7. Meijdam, A.C. & Verbon, H.A.A., 1996. "Aging and political decision making on public pensions," Other publications TiSEM 30434a77-0d7a-4d11-8fbd-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  8. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B., 1996. "Endogenous public policy and multiple equilibria," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 653-662, April.
  9. Brueckner, Jan K, 1999. " Fiscal Federalism and Capital Accumulation," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 1(2), pages 205-24.
  10. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, 1993. "Demographics, Political Power and Economic Growth," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 48(Supplemen), pages 349-65.
  11. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
  12. Wright, Randall, 1996. "Taxes, redistribution, and growth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 327-338, November.
  13. Bovenberg, A.L. & van Ewijk, C., 1997. "Progressive taxes, equity and human capital accumulation in an endogenous growth model with overlapping generations," Other publications TiSEM 6d8dd905-8f4d-4b98-8202-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  14. repec:fth:harver:1490 is not listed on IDEAS
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