Siwan Anderson, Debraj Ray, 09 October 2015

Coen Teulings, 20 December 2016

The fall in real interest rates is due to demographic trends, which are due to the introduction of the pill. In this video, Coen Teulings discusses the impact of the pill on savings.


The global financial crisis has had a profound impact on output and productivity in advanced and emerging economies. In response, policymakers around the world have acted boldly with monetary policy, macro-prudential policy and regulation.

Is productivity being held back by financial factors - such as the lack of long term finance for long term investment - or is productivity being held back by real economy factors, such as globalisation and demographics? The recent crisis has also spurred a reassessment of the relationship between the level (and type) of finance and growth. Could weak productivity growth owe in part to wasteful investment spending or an undersupply of financial services? How does the mix of early and late stage financing drive investment and productivity? This conference aims to bring together perspectives on these big questions, as they will provide important guidance for future policy actions.

Matthias Doepke, Fabian Kindermann, 03 May 2016

Europe is in the midst of a major demographic crisis, with many countries facing ultra-low fertility rates. This column uses survey data from 19 European countries to show how low fertility can be traced to disagreement within couples about having babies. In low-fertility countries, it is usually the women who bear most of the burden of childbearing, and who veto having more babies. Fertility can be raised by policies that specifically lower cost to women of childcare, whereas general subsidies for childbearing are much less effective.

Sagiri agiri Kitao, 15 April 2016

Most countries with a generous pay-as-you-go social security system and ageing demographics will need to implement significant welfare reform, such as a major cut in benefits or a significant increase in distortionary taxation. Individuals’ uncertainty about when such a policy change will occur will cause precautionary saving and changes in factor prices, affecting aggregate welfare. This column uses evidence from Japan to show that delaying welfare reform will benefit the elderly, at a long-lasting cost to the young.

Siwan Anderson, Debraj Ray, 10 October 2015

The developing world has notoriously low female-to-male sex ratios, a phenomenon that has been described as ‘missing women’. It is argued that this is driven by parental preferences for sons, sex-selective abortion, and different levels of care during infancy. This column shows that these higher rates of female mortality continue into adulthood. It argues that being unmarried, especially through widowhood, can have substantial effects on relative rates of female mortality in the developing world.

Charles Goodhart, Philipp Erfurth, 04 November 2014

Most of the world is now at the point where the support ratio is becoming adverse, and the growth of the global workforce is slowing. This column argues that these changes will have profound and negative effects on economic growth. This implies that negative real interest rates are not the new normal, but rather an extreme artefact of a series of trends, several of which are coming to an end. By 2025, real interest rates should have returned to their historical equilibrium value of around 2.5–3%.

Harun Onder, Pierre Pestieau, 20 May 2014

The world’s population is ageing, due to both increasing longevity and decreasing fertility. This column shows that the net effect of ageing on capital accumulation (and therefore growth) depends on which of these two factors dominates, and also on the structure of the pension system. Under a pension system with defined contributions, a reduction in fertility induces adjustments in savings and working life that unambiguously increase capital per worker.

Taha Choukhmane, Nicolas Coeurdacier , Keyu Jin, 22 January 2014

Since China is growing rapidly, one might expect Chinese households to borrow against their future income. In fact, Chinese households save 30.5% of their income – compared to about 5% in OECD countries. This column discusses recent research linking the Chinese saving puzzle to China’s one-child policy. The savings rate of households with twins is about 6–7 percentage points lower than that of households with an only child. Demographic factors can explain an estimated 35–45% of the 20 percentage-point rise in China’s household saving rate between 1983 and 2011.

Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 21 August 2012

During the First World War the fertility rates of European countries collapsed dramatically. The deficit of births that resulted was, for some countries, as large as military casualties. This column presents a quantitative theory to explain this phenomenon.

Uwe Sunde, Matteo Cervellati, 06 January 2012

Does rising life expectancy boost economic growth? Existing evidence is mixed, with the relationship appearing to change over time. This column presents recent research showing that living longer may have a negative effect on growth to begin with, but once fertility declines the effect becomes significantly positive. Moreover, higher life expectancy increases the probability of such a switch in fertility behaviour.

Avraham Ebenstein, Moshe Hazan, Avi Simhon, 02 December 2011

For years, policymakers trying to influence the decisions of would-be parents have tried to change the ‘price’ of having children. In France they have made it cheaper; in China more expensive. This column looks at whether such policies are likely to have their desired effect. It examines unique evidence of a shock to the cost of having a child in Israeli communities between 1990 and 2000.

Dirk Niepelt, Martín Gonzalez-Eiras, 24 June 2011

Should developed countries raise their retirement ages to combat the economic effects of their ageing populations? This column presents a model suggesting that, viewed in isolation, putting off retirement will actually reduce growth. It is only when viewed along with other policies that the benefits for growth arise.

Carlo Favero, Arie Gozluklu, Andrea Tamoni, 05 April 2010

Are long-run stock market returns predictable? This column shows that a forecasting model that uses a demographic variable – the ratio of middle-aged to young adults – as well as the dividend price ratio, performs “very well” in forecasting long-horizon stock market returns.

Benny Geys, Friedrich Heinemann, Alexander Kalb, 19 December 2007

Demographic change is old news in many fields (pensions, growth, etc.), but its impact on the economic geography of regions is understudied. Due to scale economies in the provision of public goods, regions with falling populations can experience declines in public amenities that accelerate the population drop. Here is some recent research on German municipalities illustrating problems that may soon face much of Europe.