Population Matters : Demographic Change, Economic Growth, and Poverty in the Developing World: Demographic Change, Economic Growth, and Poverty in the Developing World

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Nancy Birdsall, Allen C. Kelley, Steven Sinding
Oxford University Press, Aug 30, 2001 - Demographic transition - 456 pages
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The effect of demography on economic performance has been the subject of intense debate in economics for nearly two centuries. In recent years opinion has swung between the Malthusian views of Coale and Hoover, and the cornucopian views of Julian Simon. Unfortunately, until recently, data were too weak and analytical models too limited to provide clear insights into the relationship. As a result, economists as a group have not been clear or conclusive. This volume, which is based on a collection of papers that heavily rely on data from the 1980s and 1990s and on new analytical approaches, sheds important new light on demographic--economic relationships, and it provides clearer policy conclusions than any recent work on the subject. In particular, evidence from developing countries throughout the world shows a pattern in recent decades that was not evident earlier: countries with higher rates of population growth have tended to see less economic growth. An analysis of the role of demography in the "Asian economic miracle" strongly suggests that changes in age structures resulting from declining fertility create a one-time "demographic gift" or window of opportunity, when the working age population has relatively few dependants, of either young or old age, to support. Countries which recognize and seize on this opportunity can, as the Asian tigers did, realize healthy bursts in economic output. But such results are by no means assured: only for countries with otherwise sound economic policies will the window of opportunity yield such dramatic results. Finally, several of the studies demonstrate the likelihood of a causal relationship between high fertility and poverty. While the direction of causality is not always clear and very likely is reciprocal (poverty contributes to high fertility and high fertility reinforces poverty), the studies support the view that lower fertility at the country level helps create a path out of poverty for many families. Population Matters represents an important further step in our understanding of the contribution of population change to economic performance. As such, it will be a useful volume for policymakers both in developing countries and in international development agencies.

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Page xiii - Birdsall was the Executive Vice President of the InterAmerican Development Bank from 1993 until 1998. She holds a doctorate in economics from Yale University and was previously the Director of the Policy Research Department of the World Bank. Dr. Birdsall has written extensively about development issues, and most recently was lead author of a report of a blue-ribbon commission chaired by Paul Volcker and Jose Angel Gurria entitled "The Role of Ac Multilateral Development Banks in Emerging Market...

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Demographic Research, Volume 16

Limited preview - 2008
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About the author (2001)

Nancy Birdsall is Senior Associate and Director, Economic Reform Project, Global Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Allen C. Kelley is James B. Duke Professor of Economics, Duke University. Steven Sinding is Director, Population Sciences Division, Rockefeller Foundation.

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