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Malthus irrelevant?

Listed author(s):
  • Ziesemer Thomas


We estimate and make population forecasts with Foley’s (2000) model in three different ways. The population forecasts for high, middle and low-income countries are quite good and suggest that the omitted variable bias from its simplicity is small. Estimation of the model as a system shows that indeed Malthusian behaviour - defined as increasing population growth through increasing per capita income - cannot be found for any of the income groups of the Worldbank classification nor for Sub-Saharan Africa, and also not for countries with per capita income below $1200 in a panel estimate. For world aggregate data and for the low-income countries we find increasing returns to scale, but for the other groups decreasing returns (outweighed by a positive time trend except for Sub-Saharan Africa and the u1200 group). For the panel of countries with income below $1200, per capita income is stagnant for the period 1970-2002 in spite of the positive growth rates of the period 1991-2002. The time trend is as strong as the population growth in connection with decreasing returns to scale. Together with the absence of Malthusian behaviour this seems to suggest a strong role for the population growth problem as seen by David Ricardo.

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Paper provided by Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT) in its series Research Memorandum with number 009.

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Date of creation: 2005
Handle: RePEc:unm:umamer:2005009
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  1. Lucke, Bernd & Lutkepohl, Helmut, 2004. "On unit root tests in the presence of transitional growth," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 323-327, September.
  2. Foley, Duncan K., 2000. "Stabilization of human population through economic increasing returns," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 309-317, September.
  3. Michael Kremer, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716.
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