The Role of Fertility and Population in Economic Growth: Empirical Results from Aggregate Cross-National Data

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The role of fertility and population in economic growth: Empirical results from aggregate cross-national data

James A. Brander and Steve Dowrick

Journal of Population Economics
7(1), pp. 1-25.
August 12, 1993
=============================================================== Brander and Dowrick’s (1993) used new sets of data to look at how population growth and fertility affect economic growth. This paper discusses how population growth has varied throughout history. Finding that high birthrates reduce economic growth by “investment effects” and through “capital dilution”. Also when birth rates were lowered that income per capita increased.

Brander and Dowrick (1993) start by giving statistics on how the population has grown over a few periods of time and highlighte that the population has recently been increasing very quickly. This paper mentions that the growth rates peaked in the 1970’s and are currently slowing down a little. This attributes the increase in the population growth rate to technological innovations, improvements in food (both production and availability), and to increases in health care and sanitation. This increase in population growth rate slowed down economic growth.

This paper used data from Summers and Heston (1991) and United Nations World Population Prospects (1992). The data was separated into two time periods, one from 1960-1965 the other from 1980-1985. It suggested that from 1980-1985 there is a more negative relationship between population growth and per capita output growth compared to 1960-1965. Also per capita growth rate are 3.28% less in 1980-1985 compared to 1960-1965 (page 20). This is attributed to a slow down in technological progress but also mention a doubling of population in the less developed countries. This slow down in per capita growth could have just been an illusion caused by an extremely high rate of growth in the 1960 while the growth rate in 1980 was normal.

The Paper suggests that the main...
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