, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 1285-1301
Date: 13 Oct 2012

Population aging, health care, and growth: a comment on the effects of capital accumulation

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In a recent paper, Hashimoto and Tabata (J Popul Econ 23:571–593, 2010) present a theoretical model in which the increase in the rate of dependence due to aging of the population leads to a reallocation of labor from non-health to health production and, as a consequence, to a decline in economic growth. We argue that these results rely heavily on assumptions of a “small economy” and perfect capital mobility, which tie down the amount of capital. In this paper, we proceed by analyzing the case of an economy in which the availability of capital is endogenously determined by domestic savings. We find that the new “capital accumulation effect” is opposite to the previous “dependency rate effect,” leaving the effect on economic growth ambiguous. In particular, if the former prevailed, population aging would foster economic growth, a result that finds support in recent empirical work.

Responsible editor: Junsen Zhang