Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 401–432 | Cite as

Demographic dynamics and long-run development: insights for the secular stagnation debate

  • Matteo Cervellati
  • Uwe Sunde
  • Klaus F. ZimmermannEmail author
Original Paper


This paper takes a global, long-run perspective on the recent debate about secular stagnation, which has so far mainly focused on the short term. The analysis is motivated by observing the interplay between the economic and demographic transition that has occurred in the developed world over the past 150 years. To the extent that high growth rates in the past have partly been the consequence of singular changes during the economic and demographic transition, growth is likely to become more moderate once the transition is completed. At the same time, a similar transition is on its way in most developing countries, with profound consequences for the development prospects in these countries, but also for global comparative development. The evidence presented here suggests that long-run demographic dynamics have potentially important implications for the prospects of human and physical capital accumulation, the evolution of productivity, and the question of secular stagnation.


Secular stagnation Long-term development Income growth Demographic transition 

JEL Classification

C54 E10 J11 J 13 J18 N30 O10 O40 



The authors wish to thank the editor, Junsen Zhang, as well as three reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions. Thanks also to Lukas Rosenberger for excellent research assistance and to Victoria Finn and Gerrit Meyerheim for editorial comments. Zimmermann gratefully notes support in 2016 as John F. Kennedy Memorial Policy Fellow and Visiting Professor at the Center for European Studies, Harvard University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matteo Cervellati
    • 1
    • 2
  • Uwe Sunde
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Klaus F. Zimmermann
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.University of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.IZABonnGermany
  3. 3.University of MunichMunichGermany
  4. 4.CEPRLondonUK
  5. 5.Princeton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  6. 6.UNU-MERITMaastrichtNetherlands

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