Technological change, population dynamics, and natural resource depletion

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In this paper, we integrate fertility and educational choices into a scale-invariant model of directed technological change with non-renewable natural resources, in order to reveal the interaction between population dynamics, technological change, and natural resource depletion. In line with empirical regularities, skill-biased technological change induces a decline in population growth and a transitory increase in the depletion rate of natural resources. In the long-run, the depletion rate also declines in the skill intensity. A decline in population growth is harmful for long-run productivity growth, if R&D is subject to diminishing technological opportunities. The effectiveness of economic policies aimed at sustained economic growth thus hinges on its impact on long-run population growth given the sign of intertemporal spillovers in R&D with respect to existing technological knowledge. We demonstrate that an increase in relative research productivities or an education subsidy enhances long-run growth, if R&D is subject to diminishing technological opportunities, while an increase in the teacher–student ratio is preferable in terms of positive intertemporal knowledge spillovers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-136
Number of pages15
JournalMathematical Social Sciences
Early online date21 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014


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