NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Growth, Distribution and Demography: Some Lessons from History

Jeffrey G. Williamson

NBER Working Paper No. 6244
Issued in October 1997
NBER Program(s):   DAE

If we have learned anything from the recent outpouring of empirical growth equations is that life is far too complex to expect unconditional' convergence among all countries and at" all times. This fact motivates two questions. First, why has it taken economists so long to learn" the same lesson from the Kuznets Curve debate? No economist should expect an unconditional'" Kuznets Curve to emerge from the growth experience of all countries and at all times. The" industrial revolutionary forces thought to have an impact on inequality can be offset or reinforced" by demography, skill supply and globalization. This paper assesses the role of globalization and" demography via mass migrations. Second, why has it taken economists so long to learn that" demography influences growth? When treated properly, demography can be shown to have a" significant impact on GDP per capita growth. The answers to these two questions are sought by" looking at inequality and growth experience in the Old World, the New World last century and a half.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6244

Published: Explorations in Economic History, Vol. 35, no. 3 (July 1998): 241-271. citation courtesy of

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