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Demographics and Real Interest Rates: Inspecting the Mechanism


  • Fernanda Nechio

    (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)

  • Andrea Ferrero

    (University of Oxford)

  • Carlos Carvalho



The demographic transition can affect the equilibrium real interest rate through three channels. An increase in longevity---or expectations thereof---puts downward pressure on the real interest rate, as agents build up their savings in anticipation of a longer retirement period. A reduction in the population growth rate has two counteracting effects. On the one hand, capital per-worker rises, thus inducing lower real interest rates through a reduction in the marginal product of capital. On the other hand, the decline in population growth eventually leads to a higher dependency ratio (the fraction of retirees to workers). Because retirees save less than workers, this compositional effect lowers the aggregate savings rate and pushes real rates up. We calibrate a tractable life-cycle model to capture salient features of the demographic transition in developed economies, and find that its overall effect is a reduction of the equilibrium interest rate by at least one and a half percentage points between 1990 and 2014. Demographic trends have important implications for the conduct of monetary policy, especially in light of the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates. Other policies can offset the negative effects of the demographic transition on real rates with different degrees of success.

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  • Fernanda Nechio & Andrea Ferrero & Carlos Carvalho, 2016. "Demographics and Real Interest Rates: Inspecting the Mechanism," 2016 Meeting Papers 717, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed016:717

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    Cited by:

    1. Aleksandra Kolasa, 2017. "Macroeconomic consequences of the demographic and educational transition in Poland," Working Papers 2017-30, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    2. Nao Sudo & Yasutaka Takizuka, 2018. "Population Aging and the Real Interest Rate in the Last and Next 50 Years -- A tale told by an Overlapping Generations Model --," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 18-E-1, Bank of Japan.
    3. Gadatsch, Niklas & Stähler, Nikolai & Weigert, Benjamin, 2016. "German labor market and fiscal reforms 1999–2008: Can they be blamed for intra-euro area imbalances?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 307-324.
    4. Jordi Galí, 2016. "Monetary policy and bubbles in a new Keynesian model with overlapping generations," Economics Working Papers 1561, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Dec 2017.
    5. Lu, J. & Teulings, C., 2016. "Falling Real Interest Rates, House Prices, and the Introduction of the Pill," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1662, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    6. Röhrs, Sigrid & Winter, Christoph, 2017. "Reducing government debt in the presence of inequality," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 1-20.
    7. repec:bin:bpeajo:v:48:y:2017:i:2017-01:p:235-316 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. M. Marx & B. Mojon & F. Velde, 2017. "Why Have Interest Rates Fallen far Below the Return on Capital," Working papers 630, Banque de France.
    9. Gerlagh, Reyer & Jaimes, Richard & Motavasseli, Ali, 2017. "Global demographic change and climate policies," Discussion Paper 2017-035, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    10. Marco Del Negro & Domenico Giannone & Marc P. Giannoni & Andrea Tambalotti, 2017. "Safety, Liquidity, and the Natural Rate of Interest," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 48(1 (Spring), pages 235-316.
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    12. Kollmann, Robert & Leeper, Eric & Roeger, Werner, 2016. "The Post-Crisis Slump," MPRA Paper 71291, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Stefano Neri & Giuseppe Ferrero & Marco Gross, 2017. "On secular stagnation and low interest rates: demography matters," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1137, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    14. Mariarosaria Comunale & Jonas Striaukas, 2017. "Unconventional monetary policy: interest rates and low inflation: A review of literature and methods," CAMA Working Papers 2017-29, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    15. Michele Catalano & Emilia Pezzolla, 2016. "The effects of education and aging in an OLG model: long-run growth in France, Germany and Italy," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 43(4), pages 757-800, November.
    16. Alexius, Annika, 2017. "Why are real interest rates so low? Evidence from a structural VAR with sign restrictions," Research Papers in Economics 2017:6, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
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    19. repec:nbb:ecrart:y:2017:m:september:i:ii:p:69-86 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. repec:fip:fedfel:00142 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Ciccarelli, Matteo & Osbat, Chiara, 2017. "Low inflation in the euro area: Causes and consequences," Occasional Paper Series 181, European Central Bank.
    22. repec:eee:ecolet:v:160:y:2017:i:c:p:82-85 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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