Demographic dynamics and long-run development: Insights for the secular stagnation debate

Matteo Cervellati, Uwe Sunde & Klaus F. Zimmermann


This paper takes a global, long-run perspective on the recent debate about secular stagnation, which has so far mainly focused on the short term. The analysis is motivated by observing the interplay between the economic and demographic transition that has occurred in the developed world over the past 150 years. To the extent that high growth rates in the past have partly been the consequence of singular changes during the economic and demographic transition, growth is likely to become more moderate once the transition is completed. At the same time, a similar transition is on its way in most developing countries, with profound consequences for the development prospects in these countries, but also for global comparative development. The evidence presented here suggests that long-run development dynamics have potentially important implications for the prospects of human and physical capital accumulation, the evolution of productivity and the question of secular stagnation.

JEL Classification: C54, E10, J11, J 13, J18, N30, O10, O40

Keywords: secular stagnation, long-term development, income growth, demographic transition

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