Quality-Adjusted Population Density

63 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2020

See all articles by J. Vernon Henderson

J. Vernon Henderson

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Adam Storeygard

Tufts University

David N. Weil

Brown University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2020

Abstract

Quality-adjusted population density (QAPD) is population divided by land area that has been adjusted for geographic characteristics. We derive weights on these geographic characteristics from a global regression of population density at the quarter-degree level with country fixed effects. We show, first, that while income per capita is uncorrelated with conventionally measured population density across countries, there is a strong negative correlation between income per capita and QAPD; second, that the magnitude of this relationship exceeds the plausible structural effect of density on income, suggesting a negative correlation between QAPD and productivity or factor accumulation; and third, that higher QAPD in poor countries is primarily due to population growth since 1820. We argue that these facts are best understood as results of the differential timings of economic takeoff and demographic transition across countries, and particularly the rapid transfer of health technologies from early to late developers.

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Suggested Citation

Henderson, J. Vernon and Storeygard, Adam and Weil, David Nathan, Quality-Adjusted Population Density (November 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w28070, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3727145

J. Vernon Henderson (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Adam Storeygard

Tufts University ( email )

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David Nathan Weil

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

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