, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 543-555

Aggregate population and economic growth correlations: The role of the components of demographic change

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The results of recent correlations showing a negative impact of population growth on economic development in cross-country data for the 1980s, versus “nonsignificant” correlations widely found for the 1960s and 1970s, are examined with contemporaneous and lagged components of demographic change, convergence-type economic modeling, and several statistical frameworks. The separate impacts of births and deaths are found to be notable but offsetting in the earlier periods. In contrast, the short-run costs (benefits) of births (mortality reduction) increase (decrease) significantly in the 1980s, and the favorable labor-force impacts of past births are not fully offsetting.

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the World Bank and the National Institutes for Child Health and Human Development, the research assistance of Joel R.K. Moody and Michael C. Kelley, the editorial assistance of Gail McKinnis, the feedback at seminars (Monash University, Melbourne; University of Indonesia, Jakarta; and East-West Center, Honolulu), and the comments by Robert H. Cassen, Robert L. Clark, Steve Dowrick, and two referees.