James Mahmud Rice

[Is Low Fertility Really A Problem?]

Is Low Fertility Really A Problem? Population Aging, Dependency, And Consumption

Ronald Lee, Andrew Mason, and members of the NTA Network*

Science, 346(6206), 10 October, 2014, pages 229-234


Longer lives and fertility far below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman are leading to rapid population aging in many countries. Many observers are concerned that aging will adversely affect public finances and standards of living. Analysis of newly available National Transfer Accounts data for 40 countries shows that fertility well above replacement would typically be most beneficial for government budgets. However, fertility near replacement would be most beneficial for standards of living when the analysis includes the effects of age structure on families as well as governments. And fertility below replacement would maximize per capita consumption when the cost of providing capital for a growing labor force is taken into account. Although low fertility will indeed challenge government programs and very low fertility undermines living standards, we find that moderately low fertility and population decline favor the broader material standard of living.

*NTA Network authors: Eugenia Amporfu, Chong-Bum An, Luis Rosero Bixby, Jorge Bravo, Marisa Bucheli, Qiulin Chen, Pablo Comelatto, Deidra Coy, Hippolyte d'Albis, Gretchen Donehower, Latif Dramani, Alexia Fürnkranz-Prskawetz, Robert I Gal, Mauricio Holz, Nguyen Thi Lan Huong, Fanny Kluge, Laishram Ladusingh, Sang-Hyop Lee, Thomas Lindh, Li Ling, Giang Thanh Long, Maliki, Rikiya Matsukura, David McCarthy, Iván Mejía-Guevara, Teferi Mergo, Tim Miller, Germano Mwabu, M R Narayana, Vanndy Nor, Gilberto Mariano Norte, Naohiro Ogawa, Olanrewaju Ademola Olaniyan, Javier Olivera, Morne Oosthuizen, Mathana Phananiramai, Bernardo Lanza Queiroz, Rachel H Racelis, Elisenda Rentería, James Mahmud Rice, Joze Sambt, Aylin Seçkin, James Sefton, Adedoyin Soyibo, Jorge A Tovar, An-Chi Tung, Cassio M Turra, B Piedad Urdinola, Risto Vaittinen, Reijo Vanne, Marina Zannella, and Qi Zhang.

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