Growth on a Finite Planet: Resources, Technology and Population in the Long Run

37 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2011

See all articles by Pietro F. Peretto

Pietro F. Peretto

Duke University - Department of Economics; Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

Simone Valente


Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 29, 2011


We study the interactions between technological change, resource scarcity and population dynamics in a Schumpeterian model with endogenous fertility. There exists a pseudo-Malthusian equilibrium in which population is constant and income grows exponentially: the equilibrium population level is determined by resource scarcity but is independent of technology. The stability properties are driven by (i) the income reaction to increased resource scarcity and (ii) the fertility response to income dynamics. If labor and resources are substitutes in production, income and fertility dynamics are self-balancing and the pseudo-Malthusian equilibrium is the global attractor of the system. If labor and resources are complements, income and fertility dynamics are self-reinforcing and drive the economy towards either demographic explosion or human extinction. Introducing a minimum resource requirement, we obtain a second steady state implying constant population even under complementarity. The standard result of exponential population growth appears as a rather special case of our model.

Keywords: Endogenous Innovation, Resource Scarcity, Population Growth, Fertility Choices

JEL Classification: E10, L16, O31, O40

Suggested Citation

Peretto, Pietro F. and Valente, Simone, Growth on a Finite Planet: Resources, Technology and Population in the Long Run (June 29, 2011). Economic Research Initiatives at Duke (ERID) Working Paper No. 103. Available at SSRN:

Pietro F. Peretto (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States
919-660-1807 (Phone)
919-684-8974 (Fax)

Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative ( email )

215 Morris St., Suite 300
Durham, NC 27701
United States

Simone Valente

NTNU ( email )

Department of Economics
NTNU Dragvoll
Trondheim NO-7491

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