Demographic Transitions Across Time and Space

76 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2022

See all articles by Matt Delventhal

Matt Delventhal

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance

Jesús Fernández-Villaverde

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

Nezih Guner

Centre for Monetary and Financial Studies (CEMFI)

Date Written: November 2021

Abstract

The demographic transition --the move from a high fertility/high mortality regime into a low fertility/low mortality regime-- is one of the most fundamental transformations that countries undertake. To study demographic transitions across time and space, we compile a data set of birth and death rates for 186 countries spanning more than 250 years. We document that (i) a demographic transition has been completed or is ongoing in nearly every country; (ii) the speed of transition has increased over time; and (iii) having more neighbors that have started the transition is associated with a higher probability of a country beginning its own transition. To account for these observations, we build a quantitative model in which parents choose child quantity and educational quality. Countries differ in geographic location, and improved production and medical technologies diffuse outward from Great Britain. Our framework replicates well the timing and increasing speed of transitions. It also produces a correlation between the speeds of fertility transition and increases in schooling similar to the one in the data.

Keywords: demographic transition, Diffusion, skill-biased technological change

JEL Classification: J13, N3, O11, O33, O40

Suggested Citation

Delventhal, Matt and Fernández-Villaverde, Jesús and Guner, Nezih, Demographic Transitions Across Time and Space (November 2021). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP16708, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4026548

Matt Delventhal (Contact Author)

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance ( email )

500 E. Ninth St.
Claremont, CA 91711-6420
United States

Jesús Fernández-Villaverde

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

3718 Locust Walk
160 McNeil Building
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-1504 (Phone)
215-573-2057 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nezih Guner

Centre for Monetary and Financial Studies (CEMFI) ( email )

Casado del Alisal 5
28014 Madrid
Spain

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