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Population and Income Change
Allen C. Kelley Robert M Schmidt
Price: $ 22

World Bank Discussion Paper No. 249.

It is widely believed that, at least in the short to intermediate run, economic expansion is enhanced by slower population growth. Yet previous statistical findings show a general lack of correlation between population growth and per capita output. This study undertakes a detailed empirical assessment, based on international cross-country data for the period from the 1960s through the 1980s, of the correlation between aggregate population growth and per capita output.

The authors report two notable findings:
1) The correlations, which in earlier decades were not statistically significant, have turned strongly negative for the 1980s.
2) Over the entire period from 1960, both the direction and the size of the correlations vary by the level of economic development. In developed countries, per capita output increased as the population expanded. Conversely, developed nations saw their per capita output decline with a growing population.

The findings are consistent with what has been known about the linkages of family size and human resource development. These new findings should influence future population debates, although the issues will not be settled until a fuller explanation for the changing correlations is found.

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