Quality-adjusted Population Density

Bravo Working Paper # 2020-025

63 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2021

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 04, 2020

Abstract

Quality-adjusted population density (QAPD) is population divided by l and 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.

Keywords: Population density, physical geography

JEL Classification: O13, O18, Q56, R12

Suggested Citation

Henderson, J. Vernon and Storeygard, Adam and Weil, David Nathan, Quality-adjusted Population Density (November 04, 2020). Bravo Working Paper # 2020-025 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3737087 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3737087

J. Vernon Henderson

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

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Adam Storeygard

Tufts University ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States

David Nathan Weil (Contact Author)

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

Box B
Providence, RI 02912
United States
401-863-1754 (Phone)
401-863-1970 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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