Population Dynamics: A New Economic Approach

Population Dynamics: A New Economic Approach

Population Dynamics: A New Economic Approach

Population Dynamics: A New Economic Approach

Synopsis

Population Dynamics fills the gap between the classical supply-side population theory of Malthus and the modern demand-side theory of economic demography. In doing so, author Cyrus Chu investigates specifically the dynamic macro implications of various static micro family economic decisions. Holding the characteristic composition of the macro population to always be an aggregate result of some corresponding individual micro decision, Chu extends his research on the fertility-related decisions of families to an analysis of other economic determinations. Within this framework, Chu studies the income distribution, attitude composition, job structure, and aggregate savings and pensions of the population. While in some cases a micro-macro connection is easily established under regular behavioral assumptions, in several chapters Chu enlists the mathematical tool of branching processes to determine the connection. Offering a wealth of detail, this book provides a balanced discussion of background motivation, theoretical characterization, and empirical evidence in an effort to bring about a renewal in the economic approach to population dynamics. This welcome addition to the research and theory of economic demography will interest professional economists as well as professors and graduate students of economics.

Excerpt

A recent survey article described economic demography as "an offshoot of modern labor economics," which is a strange idea indeed. But it is certainly true that much of the best work in economic demography in recent decades has been carried out by labor economists, particularly under the seminal influence of Gary Becker. This literature has focused on aspects of individual and family behavior such as fertility, female labor supply, marriage, divorce, investment in children's health and education, and related micro topics.

Yet much of the substantive interest in economic demography derives from quite different questions, pertaining to population at the macro level. Does rapid population growth in the Third World lead to poverty and prevent development? Does it worsen income distributions? Has high child dependency forestalled growth and depressed saving? Will the costs of supporting growing proportions of elderly, following the demographic transition, impoverish workers and lead to economic stagnation? Is the current global economic-demographic growth trajectory sustainable, or will it encounter natural limits and do lasting damage to the environment? Do industrial populations oscillate about their equilibrium growth paths, as firtility overcompensates for labor market imbalances? Has population growth in the past fueled human progress, stimulating technical progress and facilitating massive investments in social infrastructure?

Many demographers and economic demographers since Malthus have studied these and similar questions. This tradition of research has paid relatively little attention to behavior at the individual level, and instead has developed the macro-economic and macro-demographic sides of the analysis. However, these core questions in economic demography have received less attention in recent decades from micro-oriented economic demographers. This division in substance and methods between the micro and macro . . .

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