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Population and Ideas: A Theory of Endogenous Growth

  • Charles I. Jones

December 3, 1998 -- Version 4.0 All growth models are linear in some sense, and the endogenous growth literature can be read as the search for the appropriate linear differential equation. Linearity is a "crucial" assumption, in the sense used by Solow (1956), and it therefore seems reasonable to ask that this assumption have an intuitive and compelling justification. This paper proposes that such a justification can be found if the linearity is located in an endogenous fertility equation. It is a fact of nature that the law of motion for population is linear: people reproduce in proportion to their number. By itself, this linearity will not generate per capita growth, but it is nevertheless the first crucial ingredient of such a model. The second crucial ingredient is increasing returns to scale. A justification for increasing returns, rather than linearity in the equation for technological progress, is the fundamental insight of the idea-based growth literature according to this view. Endogenous fertility together with increasing returns generates endogenous growth.

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Paper provided by Stanford University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 98014.

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  1. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction," Scholarly Articles 12490578, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Nordhaus, William D, 1969. "An Economic Theory of Technological Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 18-28, May.
  3. Aghion, P. & Howitt, P., 1990. "A Model Of Growth Through Creative Destruction," DELTA Working Papers 90-12, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
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  8. Raut, L K & Srinivasan, T N, 1994. "Dynamics of Endogenous Growth," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 4(5), pages 777-90, August.
  9. Paul M. Romer, 1987. "Crazy Explanations for the Productivity Slowdown," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1987, Volume 2, pages 163-210 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Sergio Rebelo, 1999. "Long Run Policy Analysis and Long Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2114, David K. Levine.
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  13. Judd, Kenneth L, 1985. "On the Performance of Patents," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(3), pages 567-85, May.
  14. Edmond S. Phelps, 1964. "Models of Technical Progress and the Golden Rule of Research," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 176, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  15. Alwyn Young, 1998. "Growth without Scale Effects," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(1), pages 41-63, February.
  16. Robert M. Solow, 1994. "Perspectives on Growth Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 45-54, Winter.
  17. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Karl Shell, 2010. "A Model of Inventive Activity and Capital Accumulation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1409, David K. Levine.
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