NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

On the Consequences of Demographic Change for Rates of Returns to Capital, and the Distribution of Wealth and Welfare

Dirk Krueger, Alexander Ludwig

NBER Working Paper No. 12453
Issued in August 2006
NBER Program(s):   EFG   PE

This paper employs a multi-country large scale Overlapping Generations model with uninsurable labor productivity and mortality risk to quantify the impact of the demographic transition towards an older population in industrialized countries on world-wide rates of return, international capital flows and the distribution of wealth and welfare in the OECD. We find that for the U.S. as an open economy, rates of return are predicted to decline by 86 basis points between 2005 and 2080 and wages increase by about 4.1%. If the U.S. were a closed economy, rates of return would decline and wages increase by less. This is due to the fact that other regions in the OECD will age even more rapidly; therefore the U.S. is "importing" the more severe demographic transition from the rest of the OECD in the form of larger factor price changes. In terms of welfare, our model suggests that young agents with little assets and currently low labor productivity gain, up to 1% in consumption, from higher wages associated with population aging. Older, asset-rich households tend to lose, because of the predicted decline in real returns to capital.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12453

Published: Krueger, Dirk & Ludwig, Alexander, 2007. "On the consequences of demographic change for rates of returns to capital, and the distribution of wealth and welfare," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 49-87, January.

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