Demographic Changes and International Factor Mobility

John F. Helliwell

NBER Working Paper No. 10945
Issued in December 2004
NBER Program(s):International Finance and Macroeconomics, International Trade and Investment

This paper reviews the extent and policy implications of linkages between demographic changes and international factor mobility. Evidence is found of significant demographic effects on both migration and the current account, but for different reasons neither increased migration nor international transfers of savings is expected to offer much assistance in digesting the variety of demographic transitions expected over the next fifty years. The paper also examines more briefly the effects of demography on the factor content of international trade, as exemplified by offshore provision of back-office and other services previously provided closer to home.

When considering the consequences of using international capital movements and especially migration to mediate international differences in demographic patterns, I broaden the focus from the usual economic variables, such as the size and distribution of incomes and employment, to consider explicit measures of well-being, which have been shown to depend on far more than economic variables. This has implications for a whole range of policies, both domestic and international, that might help deal with national and global demographic transitions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10945

Published: John F. Helliwell, 2004. "Demographic changes and international factor mobility," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Aug, pages 369-420. citation courtesy of

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