NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Population Aging and Structural Transformation

Javier Cravino, Andrei A. Levchenko, Marco Rojas

NBER Working Paper No. 26327
Issued in September 2019
NBER Program(s):Program on the Economics of Aging, Development Economics Program, Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program, Health Care Program, , Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program

We propose and quantify a novel mechanism behind the structural transformation process: older individuals devote a larger share of their expenditures to services, so the relative size of the service sector grows as the population ages. We document that for a large sample of countries, increases in population age are accompanied by the rise in the relative size of the service sector. We use household-level data from the US Consumer Expenditure Survey to show that the fraction of expenditures devoted to services increases with household age. We use a shift-share decomposition and a quantitative model to show that changes in the US population age distribution accounted for about a fifth of the increase in the share of services in consumption expenditures observed between 1982 and 2016. In our quantitative model, population aging plays a much larger role than changes in real income in accounting for the structural change observed in the US during this period.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26327

 
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