The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Population Dynamics

  • Ronald D. Lee
Reference work entry


Population dynamics are the patterns of change over time in populations. Populations fluctuate in response to fluctuating external forces, or because of the internal structure of the process of demographic renewal. Damped cycles one generation long may result from the interaction of random perturbation and the age distribution of reproduction. So-called Easterlin cycles two generations long, either damped or self-exciting, may arise from the lag between birth and labour force entry when fertility responds sensitively to labour market conditions. Longer-term dynamics arise from the interactions of population growth, capital, endogenous technology, and income.


Easterlin cycles Easterlin hypothesis Fertility Kondratieff cycles Kuznets swings Malthus, T. Malthus’s theory of population Net maternity function Net reproduction rate Population and economic growth Population density Population dynamics Solow, R. Stable population theory Technical progress 

JEL Classifications

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Boserup, E. 1981. Population and technological change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Coale, A. 1972. The growth and structure of human populations: A mathematical investigation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Easterlin, R. 1968. Population, labor force, and long swings in economic growth. New York: National Bureau for Economic Research.Google Scholar
  4. Jones, C. 2003. Population and ideas: A theory of endogenous growth. In Knowledge, information, and expectations in modern macroeconomics: In honor of Edmund S. Phelps, ed. P. Aghion et al. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Kremer, M. 1993. Population growth and technological change: 1,000,000 B.C. to 1990. Quarterly Journal of Economics 108: 681–716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Lee, R. 1974. The formal dynamics of controlled populations and the echo, boom and the bust. Demography 11: 563–585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lee, R. 1986. Malthus and Boserup: A dynamic synthesis. In The state of population theory, ed. D. Coleman and R. Schofield. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  8. Lee, R. 1997. Population dynamics: Equilibrium, disequilibrium, and consequences of fluctuations. Handbook of population and family economics, v. 1B, ed. M. Rosenzweig and O. Stark. Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  9. Malthus, T. 1798. In An essay on the principle of population, ed. A. Flew. Harmondsworth: Penguin. , 1970.Google Scholar
  10. Samuelson, P. 1976. An economist’s non-linear model of self-generated fertility waves. Population Studies 30: 243–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Solow, R. 1956. A contribution to the theory of economic growth. Quarterly Journal of Economics 70: 65–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Wachter, K. 1991. Elusive cycles: Are there dynamically possible Lee–Easterlin models for US births? Population Studies 45: 109–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Wrigley, E., and R. Schofield. 1981. The population history of England 1541–1871: A reconstruction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Yule, G. 1906. Changes in the marriage and birth rates in England and Wales during the past half century. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society 69 (1): 18–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald D. Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.