nep-gro New Economics Papers
on Economic Growth
Issue of 2021‒08‒23
seven papers chosen by
Marc Klemp
University of Copenhagen

  1. The Past and Future of Economic Growth: A Semi-Endogenous Perspective By Charles I. Jones
  2. We Do Not Know the Population of Every Country in the World for the past Two Thousand Years By Timothy Guinnane
  3. Variety, Fertility, and Long-term Economic Growth By Jianchoun Dou
  4. A Pomeranzian Growth Theory of the Great Divergence By Shuhei Aoki
  5. Pork, Infrastructure and Growth: Evidence from the Italian Railway Expansion By Roberto Bonfatti; Giovanni Facchini; Alexander Tarasov; Gian Luca Tedeschi; Cecilia Testa
  6. The Effect of Labor, Export, and Government Expenditure on Economic Growth By Indana, Zulfa; Mulyani, Endang
  7. Economic Development, the Nutrition Trap and Metabolic Disease By Nancy Luke; Kaivan Munshi; Anu Oommen; Swapnil Singh

  1. By: Charles I. Jones
    Abstract: The nonrivalry of ideas gives rise to increasing returns, a fact celebrated in Paul Romer's recent Nobel Prize. An implication is that the long-run rate of economic growth is the product of the degree of increasing returns and the growth rate of research effort; this is the essence of semi-endogenous growth theory. This paper interprets past and future growth from a semi-endogenous perspective. For 50+ years, U.S. growth has substantially exceeded its long-run rate because of rising educational attainment, declining misallocation, and rising (global) research intensity, implying that frontier growth could slow markedly in the future. Other forces push in the opposite direction. First is the prospect of "finding new Einsteins": how many talented researchers have we missed historically because of the underdevelopment of China and India and because of barriers that discouraged women inventors? Second is the longer-term prospect that artificial intelligence could augment or even replace people as researchers. Throughout, the paper highlights many opportunities for further research.
    JEL: E0 O4
    Date: 2021–08
  2. By: Timothy Guinnane
    Abstract: Economists have reported econometric results that rely on estimates of the population of every country in the world for the past two thousand or more years. The underlying source is usually McEvedy and Jones’ Atlas of World Population History, published in 1978. The McEvedy and Jones data have important weaknesses. The reported populations for years before 1500 are, for most countries, little more than guesses, as are many estimates for more recent times. Research relying on McEvedy and Jones cannot take advantage of improved estimates reported since 1978. McEvedy and Jones often infer population sizes from their view of a particular economy, making their estimates poor proxies for economic growth. Although some economists treat the African data as pertaining to modern nation-states, in most cases it is not. With a few welcome exceptions, economists using this source do not take the measurement error issues seriously. Results that rest on McEvedy and Jones are unreliable. The willingness to rely on such data discourages effort to provide serious improvements.
    Keywords: long-run growth, historical populations, measurement error, McEvedy and Jones
    JEL: N00 N10 O40 O47 J10 C18
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Jianchoun Dou (Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an, China)
    Abstract: This study develops a novel mechanism to explain the long-term economic and demographic evolution from the Malthusian stage to the modern stage. In the model, the progress in human history is characterized by not only technological advances but also the expansion of variety of goods. The technological progress, which enhances productivity, is in favor of population growth. Meanwhile, the growth of variety that expands consumption sets tends to reduce fertility. The change of fertility finally depends on the relative growth rate of these two kinds of innovations. With the help of some hypotheses that correspond to the stylized facts in the history of science and technology, the model predicts an evolutional pattern of technology and fertility that is consistent with unified growth theory.
    Keywords: Variety, Fertility, Economic growth, Innovations
    JEL: J11 J13 N3
    Date: 2021–07–18
  4. By: Shuhei Aoki
    Abstract: In this paper, I construct a growth model of the Great Divergence, which formalizes Pomeranz's (2000) hypothesis that the relief of land constraints in Europe caused divergence in economic growth between Europe and China since the 19th century. The model has agricultural and manufacturing sectors. The agricultural sector produces subsistence goods from land, intermediate goods made in the manufacturing sector, and labor. The manufacturing sector produces the goods from labor, and its productivity grows through learning-by-doing. Households make fertility decisions. In the model, a large exogenous positive shock in land supply makes the transition of the economy from the Malthusian state, in which all workers are engaged in agricultural production and per capita income is constant, to the non-Malthusian state, in which the share of workers engaging in manufacturing production gradually increases and per capita income grows at a roughly constant growth rate. The quantitative predictions of the model provide several insights on the cause of the Great Divergence.
    Date: 2021–08
  5. By: Roberto Bonfatti; Giovanni Facchini; Alexander Tarasov; Gian Luca Tedeschi; Cecilia Testa
    Abstract: This paper studies the role played by politics in shaping the Italian railway network, and its impact on long-run growth patterns. Examining a large state-planned railway expansion that took place during the second half of the 19th century in a recently unified country, we first study how both national and local political processes shaped the planned railway construction. Exploiting close elections, we show that a state-funded railway line is more likely to be planned for construction where the local representative is aligned with the government. Furthermore, the actual path followed by the railways was shaped by local pork-barreling, with towns supporting winning candidates more likely to see a railway crossing their territory. Finally, we explore the long-run effects of the network expansion on economic development. Employing population and economic censuses for the entire 20th century, we show that politics at a critical juncture played a key role in explaining the long-run evolution of local economies.
    Keywords: infrastructural development, political economy
    JEL: N01 N73 D72
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Indana, Zulfa; Mulyani, Endang
    Abstract: The purpose of this study is to explain the effect of labor on economic growth, the effect of exports on economic growth, the effect of government expenditure on economic growth, the effect of labor, exports, and government expenditure on economic growth. The variables used in this study are labor, exports, and government expenditure. The method used in this research is quantitative method. The type of data used in this study is secondary data in the form of times series data from 1990-2020 which is sourced from Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS). The results showed that (1) labor has a positive and significant effect on economic growth, (2) Exports has positive and significant effect on economic growth (3) Government expenditure has positive and significant on economic growth (4) Labor, exports, and government expenditure together affect on economic growth 96.1%.
    Date: 2021–07–11
  7. By: Nancy Luke; Kaivan Munshi; Anu Oommen; Swapnil Singh
    Abstract: This research provides a single explanation for: (i) the persistence of malnutrition and (ii) the increased prevalence of metabolic disease (diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease) among normal weight individuals with economic development. Our model is based on a set point for BMI or bodyweight that is adapted to conditions of scarcity in the pre-modern economy, but which subsequently fails to adjust to rapid economic change. During the process of development, some individuals thus remain at their low-BMI set point, despite the increase in their consumption, while others who have escaped the nutrition trap (but are not necessarily overweight) are at increased risk of metabolic disease. The model and the underlying biological mechanism, which are validated with micro-data from India, Indonesia and Ghana can jointly explain inter-regional (Asia-Africa) differences in nutritional status and the prevalence of diabetes.
    JEL: I15 O20
    Date: 2021–08

This nep-gro issue is ©2021 by Marc Klemp. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.