Endogenous fertility, mortality and economic growth: Can a Malthusian framework account for the conflicting historical trends in population?

Isaac Ehrlich, Jinyoung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The 19th century economist Thomas Robert Malthus hypothesized that the long-run supply of labor is completely elastic at a fixed wage-income level because population growth tends to outstrip real output growth. Dynamic equilibrium with constant income and population is achieved through equilibrating adjustments in "positive checks" (mortality, starvation) and "preventive checks" (marriage, fertility). Developing economies since the Industrial Revolution, and more recently especially Asian economies, have experienced steady income growth accompanied by sharply falling fertility and mortality rates. We develop a dynamic model of endogenous fertility, longevity, and human capital formation within a Malthusian framework that allows for diminishing returns to labor but also for the role of human capital as an engine of growth. Our model accounts for economic stagnation with high fertility and mortality and constant population and income, as predicted by Malthus, but also for takeoffs to a growth regime and a demographic transition toward low fertility and mortality rates, and a persistent growth in per-capita income.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-806
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Asian Economics
Volume16
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Labor
Endogenous fertility
Mortality rate
Economic growth
Mortality
Fertility rate
Fertility
Malthus
Income
Human capital
Stagnation
Growth regime
Population growth
Income growth
Demographic transition
Wages
Income level
Per capita income
Marriage
Economics

Keywords

  • Demographic transition
  • Fertility
  • Human Capital
  • Malthus
  • Mortality
  • Population growth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Finance

Cite this

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title = "Endogenous fertility, mortality and economic growth: Can a Malthusian framework account for the conflicting historical trends in population?",
abstract = "The 19th century economist Thomas Robert Malthus hypothesized that the long-run supply of labor is completely elastic at a fixed wage-income level because population growth tends to outstrip real output growth. Dynamic equilibrium with constant income and population is achieved through equilibrating adjustments in {"}positive checks{"} (mortality, starvation) and {"}preventive checks{"} (marriage, fertility). Developing economies since the Industrial Revolution, and more recently especially Asian economies, have experienced steady income growth accompanied by sharply falling fertility and mortality rates. We develop a dynamic model of endogenous fertility, longevity, and human capital formation within a Malthusian framework that allows for diminishing returns to labor but also for the role of human capital as an engine of growth. Our model accounts for economic stagnation with high fertility and mortality and constant population and income, as predicted by Malthus, but also for takeoffs to a growth regime and a demographic transition toward low fertility and mortality rates, and a persistent growth in per-capita income.",
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N2 - The 19th century economist Thomas Robert Malthus hypothesized that the long-run supply of labor is completely elastic at a fixed wage-income level because population growth tends to outstrip real output growth. Dynamic equilibrium with constant income and population is achieved through equilibrating adjustments in "positive checks" (mortality, starvation) and "preventive checks" (marriage, fertility). Developing economies since the Industrial Revolution, and more recently especially Asian economies, have experienced steady income growth accompanied by sharply falling fertility and mortality rates. We develop a dynamic model of endogenous fertility, longevity, and human capital formation within a Malthusian framework that allows for diminishing returns to labor but also for the role of human capital as an engine of growth. Our model accounts for economic stagnation with high fertility and mortality and constant population and income, as predicted by Malthus, but also for takeoffs to a growth regime and a demographic transition toward low fertility and mortality rates, and a persistent growth in per-capita income.

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