nep-gro New Economics Papers
on Economic Growth
Issue of 2018‒05‒28
six papers chosen by
Marc Klemp
University of Copenhagen

  1. Diversity and Conflict By Arbatli, Cemal Eren; Ashraf, Quamrul; Galor, Oded; Klemp, Marc
  2. Traditional Agricultural Practices and the Sex Ratio Today By Alesina, Alberto; Giuliano, Paola; Nunn, Nathan
  3. Perpetual growth, distribution, and robots By Nomaler, Onder; Verspagen, Bart
  4. A VAR evaluation of classical growth theory By Tim Lueger
  5. The Age Distribution of the Labour Force as Evidence of Prior Events: The Italian Data for 1911 and the Long Swing in Investment from Unification to the Great War By Roberto Pezzuto
  6. Walking on two legs: Growth accounting with labor-saving and capital-saving technical change By Pierre Barral; Mehdi Senouci

  1. By: Arbatli, Cemal Eren (National Research University); Ashraf, Quamrul (Williams College); Galor, Oded (Brown University); Klemp, Marc (University of Copenhagen)
    Abstract: This research advances the hypothesis and establishes empirically that interpersonal population diversity has contributed significantly to the emergence, prevalence, recurrence, and severity of intrasocietal conflicts. Exploiting an exogenous source of variations in population diversity across nations and ethnic groups, it demonstrates that population diversity, as determined predominantly during the exodus of humans from Africa tens of thousands of years ago, has contributed significantly to the risk and intensity of historical and contemporary internal conflicts, accounting for the confounding effects of geographical, institutional, and cultural characteristics, as well as for the level of economic development. These findings arguably reflect the adverse effect of population diversity on interpersonal trust, its contribution to divergence in preferences for public goods and redistributive policies, and its impact on the degree of fractionalization and polarization across ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups.
    Keywords: social conflict, population diversity, ethnic fractionalization, ethnic polarization, interpersonal trust, political preferences
    JEL: D74 N30 N40 O11 O43 Z13
    Date: 2018–04
  2. By: Alesina, Alberto (Harvard University); Giuliano, Paola (University of California, Los Angeles); Nunn, Nathan (Harvard University)
    Abstract: We study the historical origins of cross-country differences in the male-to-female sex ratio. Our analysis focuses on the use of the plough in traditional agriculture. In societies that did not use the plough, women tended to participate in agriculture as actively as men. By contrast, in societies that used the plough, men specialized in agricultural work, due to the physical strength needed to pull the plough or control the animal that pulls it. We hypothesize that this difference caused plough-using societies to value boys more than girls. Today, this belief is reflected in male-biased sex ratios, which arise due to sex-selective abortion or infanticide, or gender-differences in access to family resources, which results in higher mortality rates for girls. Testing this hypothesis, we show that descendants of societies that traditionally practiced plough agriculture today have higher average male-to-female sex ratios. We find that this effect systematically increases in magnitude and statistical significance as one looks at older cohorts. Estimates using instrumental variables confirm our findings from multivariate OLS analysis.
    Keywords: sex ratio, gender roles, cultural transmission, historical persistence
    JEL: J1 N00 Z1
    Date: 2018–04
  3. By: Nomaler, Onder (ECIS, TU Eindhoven); Verspagen, Bart (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University)
    Abstract: The current literature on the economic effects of machine learning, robotisation and artificial intelligence suggests that there may be an upcoming wave of substitution of human labour by machines (including software). We take this as a reason to rethink the traditional ways in which technological change has been represented in economic models. In doing so, we contribute to the recent literature on so-called perpetual growth, i.e., growth of per capita income without technological progress. When technology embodied in capital goods are sufficiently advanced, per capita growth becomes possible with a non-progressing state of technology. We present a simple Solow-like growth model that incorporates these ideas. The model predicts a rising wage rate but declining share of wage income in the steady state growth path. We present simulation experiments on several policy options to combat the inequality that results from this, including a universal basic income as well as an option in which workers become owners of "robots".
    Keywords: perpetual economic growth, economic effects of robots, income distribution
    JEL: O15 O41 O33 E25 P17
    Date: 2018–05–23
  4. By: Tim Lueger (Darmstadt University of Technology)
    Abstract: Over the past two decades, there have been numerous attempts in economic theory to model the historical regime of a Malthusian trap as well as the transition to growth in one coherent framework, or in other words, a unified growth theory. However, in most of these models, an important effect suggested by Malthus has been frequently omitted. By including what he had called ?the great preventive check? in the traditional Malthusian model which is based on the principle of population, the principle of diminishing returns and the principle of labour division, the transition can be modelled in a very simple dynamic macroeconomic framework. The aim of this paper is to first construct and calibrate the suggested classical model and to eventually employ a conventional VAR-Method to provide evidence of the above principles using country-specific annual historical data on crude birth rate, crude death rate and GDP per capita growth rate. As a result, it is argued that emerging economies follow a universal macroeconomic pattern of development. A decreasing death rate is succeeded by a decreasing birth rate which at the same time induces GDP per capita to rise sustainably. The correspondingly advanced microeconomic theory suggests that increasing life expectancy tends to create a demographic structure that is much less prone to overpopulation.
    Keywords: Demographic Transition, Malthusian Trap, Unified Growth Theory, Classical Growth Theory, Vectorautoregression
    JEL: B12 J11 O11
    Date: 2018–04
  5. By: Roberto Pezzuto (MSc. Candidate, Department of Economics and Finance, University of Rome Tor Vergata)
    Abstract: Data on the age distribution of the labour force, by activity, appear in numerous early twentieth-century European censuses; but economic historians seem never to have explored them. This paper provides an initial examination of the age-distribution data in the Italian census of 1911, showing how they shed light on various aspects of the economy of the day, and on its preceding path. A point of particular interest is that these data reflect the long cycle in construction, and in the production of construction materials. They further suggest that the long cycle of the engineering industry documented by its aggregate metal consumption was indeed present in the production of construction-related hardware, but notably absent from the production of machinery and, derivatively, industrial investment. This last point denies the empirical premise of the extant interpretations of Italy's post-Unification industrial growth; but it sits we ll with the new disaggregated time-series estimates of the engineering industry's product.
    Keywords: Demographic Trends; Geographic Labour Mobility; Job, Occupational, and Intergenerational Mobility; Manufacturing and Construction in Europe: Pre-1913
    JEL: J11 J61 J62 N33 N63
    Date: 2017–11
  6. By: Pierre Barral; Mehdi Senouci (LGI - Laboratoire Génie Industriel - EA 2606 - CentraleSupélec)
    Abstract: We present an alternative to growth accounting à la Solow, on the same set of variables, that provides a metric for labor-saving technical change ('λ') and capital-saving technical change ('µ'). These two components are identified through the variations of the factor shares, which we assume to reflect marginal productivities. We run our algorithm using BEA data from 1948 to 2015, and compare the predictive power of our time series of (λ_t,µ_t) with the one of the Solow residual. Through simple regressions, we find: (i) that λ and µ are as good predictors of the growth rate of GDP per capita as the Solow residual, and (ii) that λ and µ, together with capital accumulation, are strong predictors of the variation of the factor shares, while the Solow residual is not. We conclude that a bi-dimensional representation of productivity has a stronger empirical relevance than the usual linear representation; however the former carries some different theoretical properties than the latter – notably on the consequences of capital accumulation.
    Keywords: capital accumulation,factor-saving technical change,Productivity
    Date: 2018–08–27

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