Proposal preview

Demography and economic change from modern era to date: An international comparative perspective.

In the last few decades the risk of an unsustainable explosion of the world population has given way to the fear of a demographic winter, possibly inducing relevant losses in terms of economic and social dynamism. In the most developed countries first, and in many emerging countries then, a situation combining accelerated aging and long-term shrinking of working-age population, an older workforce with obsolete skills, may significantly contribute to lower the paces of productivity growth and innovativeness.
The main goal of the Session is to discuss themes related to population structure and its changes – its main driving components as fertility, mortality, life expectancy, and migration – investigating how did they contribute to economic dynamics in the past. This will help to interpret today’s prevailing long-term demographic perspectives, to understand their geographical scope and their global implications. The works presented in the Session, in fact, will help to give a historically informed view on core current demographic issues such as ageing and sub-replacement fertility, and on their economic consequences. The search of commonalities and divergences between pre-modern, modern and post-modern demographic developments may help to critically assess present predictions of future demographic dynamics and to discuss policy options to deal with upcoming challenges. Along these lines, the Session may contribute to a richer understanding of the links between demographic and economic forces, including a possible original reading of the current secular stagnation debate.
The Session, with an international and long-run scope, will develop as an interdisciplinary discussion between demographers, historical demographers, economic historians, economists. The papers will focus on single country’s experiences or on cross country analyses in the far past or over a long period of time.

Format
The Session will be organized in three chaired sub-sessions of about 60 minutes each; the three sub-sessions will include three papers each. Within each sub-session, after presentation of the three papers by Authors, the Convenor should highlight the three papers’ main common issues and ignite the discussion from the Floor. The papers will be pre-circulated. Papers, presentations and discussions will explore one or more issues outlined above with the goal of developing a comparative perspective.

Sub-session A)Population Dynamics:
Chair: S. Broadberry
Convenor: F. Cinnirella
Speakers: G. Alfani; F. Barbiellini Amidei; C. Ciccarelli.

Sub-session B)Fertility
Chair: F. Barbiellini Amidei
Convenor: R. Calvi
Speakers: M. Dribe; B. Chabé-Ferret.

Sub-session C) Migration and Human Capital
Chair: K. Mutongi
Convenor: M. F. M. van Waijenburg
Speakers: S.O. Becker; D. de la Croix; G. Dalla Zuanna and A. Colombo.

Organizer(s)

  • Federico Barbiellini Amidei, Banca d'Italia, federico.barbielliniamidei@bancaditalia.it , Italy
  • Matteo Gomellini, Banca d'Italia, matteo.gomellini@bancaditalia.it , Italy
  • Faustine Perrin, Lund University, faustine.perrin@ekh.lu.se , Sweden

Session members

  • Guido Alfani , Università Bocconi
  • Federico Barbiellini Amidei, Banca d'Italia
  • Sascha O. Becker, University of Warwick
  • Carlo Ciccarelli, Università di Roma Tor Vergata
  • Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, Università degli Studi di Padova
  • David de la Croix, Université catholique de Louvain
  • Martin Dribe , Lund University
  • Matteo Gomellini, Banca d'Italia
  • Bastien Chabé-Ferret, University of Essex
  • Asher Colombo, University of Bologna

Discussant(s)

  • Federico Barbiellini Amidei(Chair), Banca d'Italia, federico.barbielliniamidei@bancaditalia.it ,
  • Stephen Broadberry (Chair), Oxford University, stephen.broadberry@nuffield.ox.ac.uk
  • Rossella Calvi (Convenor), Rice University, rossella.calvi@rice.edu
  • Francesco Cinnirella (Convenor), University of Southern Denmark, cinnirella@sam.sdu.dk
  • Kenda Mutongi (Chair), Williams, kmutongi@williams.edu
  • Marlous van Waijenburg (Convenor), University of Michigan, mvanwaij@umich.edu

Papers

Panel abstract

In the last few decades the risk of an unsustainable explosion of the world population has given way to the fear of a demographic winter, possibly inducing relevant losses in terms of economic and social dynamism. In the most developed countries first, and in many emerging countries then, a situation combining accelerated aging and long-term shrinking of working-age population, an older workforce with obsolete skills, may significantly contribute to lower the paces of productivity growth and innovativeness. The main goal of the Session is to discuss themes related to population structure and its changes – its main driving components as fertility, mortality, life expectancy, and migration – investigating how did they contribute to economic dynamics in the past. This will help to interpret today’s prevailing long-term demographic perspectives, to understand their geographical scope and their global implications. *Attending authors.

1st half

The chronology and the causes of famine in Italy and Europe, ca. 1250-1950

Guido Alfani*

Studies of modern famines tend to consider them “man-made”, resulting from war or from adverse shocks to food entitlements. This view has increasingly been applied to historical famines, against the earlier Malthusian orthodoxy. By using a novel dataset and temporal scan analysis, this paper identifies periods when famines were particularly frequent in Italy and in Europe as a whole, from ca. 1250 until today. It finds that up to 1710 in Europe (and until as late as 1770 in Italy), the main clusters of famines occurred in periods of historically high population density. This relationship disappears in later periods. The paper finds strong evidence that before 1710 high population pressure on resources was by far the most frequent remote cause of famines, while the proximate cause was almost invariably meteorological. The conclusion, in contrast with a currently quite widespread view, is that most preindustrial famines were the result of production,...

Studies of modern famines tend to consider them “man-made”, resulting from war or from adverse shocks to food entitlements. This view has increasingly been applied to historical famines, against the earlier Malthusian orthodoxy. By using a novel dataset and temporal scan analysis, this paper identifies periods when famines were particularly frequent in Italy and in Europe as a whole, from ca. 1250 until today. It finds that up to 1710 in Europe (and until as late as 1770 in Italy), the main clusters of famines occurred in periods of historically high population density. This relationship disappears in later periods. The paper finds strong evidence that before 1710 high population pressure on resources was by far the most frequent remote cause of famines, while the proximate cause was almost invariably meteorological. The conclusion, in contrast with a currently quite widespread view, is that most preindustrial famines were the result of production, not of distribution issues. Only after 1710 did man-made famines become prevalent – until the very last European famine, which was associated to World War 2. The paper will provide an European overview, focusing on the Italian case to provide additional details and insights.

The price of demography

Federico Barbiellini Amidei*, Matteo Gomellini* and Paolo Piselli

A few studies lately explored the relationship between changes in the demographic structure and prices using mainly cross-country analyses. In this paper we investigate how the evolution of the age structure of population affected price dynamics in Italy, using annual data for a panel of provinces in the period 1982-2015. The within-country approach allows us to wipe out the effects of supranational shocks, as well as to better take into account the effects of monetary policy, main common driver of price dynamics over the medium-term. We use a set of indicators: dependency ratio, young and old age dependency ratios and the share of working age population. Our preliminary results suggest that the ongoing aging process contributed to dampen price dynamics. The long run coefficients we estimated imply that, since the early 1980s to date, when inflation in Italy dropped from 16.2 to 0.3 per cent per year, the increase in...

A few studies lately explored the relationship between changes in the demographic structure and prices using mainly cross-country analyses. In this paper we investigate how the evolution of the age structure of population affected price dynamics in Italy, using annual data for a panel of provinces in the period 1982-2015. The within-country approach allows us to wipe out the effects of supranational shocks, as well as to better take into account the effects of monetary policy, main common driver of price dynamics over the medium-term. We use a set of indicators: dependency ratio, young and old age dependency ratios and the share of working age population. Our preliminary results suggest that the ongoing aging process contributed to dampen price dynamics. The long run coefficients we estimated imply that, since the early 1980s to date, when inflation in Italy dropped from 16.2 to 0.3 per cent per year, the increase in the dependency ratio from 49.8 to 58.2 per cent have accounted for one tenth of the observed decrease in the inflation rate.

Demographics and Productivity in Italy’s Regions

Carlo Ciccarelli*, Matteo Gomellini* and Paolo Sestito

An ageing population has potential adverse effects on productivity and it is, thus, a crucial concern for many countries. Nonetheless, some scholars claims that the negative effects of ageing on productivity should not be exaggerated since although “older people do not run as fast, there is no evidence of a mental productivity decline” (Van Ours, 2010). This paper investigates if the nexus between demography and productivity holds for Italy and if it has quantitatively or qualitatively changed over time. First, we present evidences on the links between the share of young people and manufacturing productivity growth in Italy focusing on two decades: the first at the beginning of the twentieth century (1901-1911), and the second at the beginning of the XXI century (2001-2011). Within each decade we exploit the differences existing across Italian provinces and use an IV approach to estimate a causal link between the share of young people...

An ageing population has potential adverse effects on productivity and it is, thus, a crucial concern for many countries. Nonetheless, some scholars claims that the negative effects of ageing on productivity should not be exaggerated since although “older people do not run as fast, there is no evidence of a mental productivity decline” (Van Ours, 2010). This paper investigates if the nexus between demography and productivity holds for Italy and if it has quantitatively or qualitatively changed over time. First, we present evidences on the links between the share of young people and manufacturing productivity growth in Italy focusing on two decades: the first at the beginning of the twentieth century (1901-1911), and the second at the beginning of the XXI century (2001-2011). Within each decade we exploit the differences existing across Italian provinces and use an IV approach to estimate a causal link between the share of young people and manufacturing productivity growth. Then, we extend the analysis to include the whole post WWII period.

SES and Fertility in a Global and Historical Perspective. Evidence from Micro-Level Population Data.

Martin Dribe*, Francesco Scalone

In this paper we look at socioeconomic differentials in fertility in a global South perspective. We rely on individual level data from contemporary census data (IPUMS International), using a common scheme to classify occupations into social class, and data on the education of the woman. We use data from 120 census samples from 53 countries in the global south in the post-1960 period. In the analysis, we chart the basic patterns of fertility differentials by class and education across populations, looking at the extent of the geographic and temporal variations. The SES differentials are then related to different stages of the fertility transition. Our findings show clear differences in fertility by both social class and education of the woman. Not only were there differentials but clear gradients from low status (high fertility) to high status (low fertility) both in terms of education and social class These two dimensions of SES...

In this paper we look at socioeconomic differentials in fertility in a global South perspective. We rely on individual level data from contemporary census data (IPUMS International), using a common scheme to classify occupations into social class, and data on the education of the woman. We use data from 120 census samples from 53 countries in the global south in the post-1960 period. In the analysis, we chart the basic patterns of fertility differentials by class and education across populations, looking at the extent of the geographic and temporal variations. The SES differentials are then related to different stages of the fertility transition. Our findings show clear differences in fertility by both social class and education of the woman. Not only were there differentials but clear gradients from low status (high fertility) to high status (low fertility) both in terms of education and social class These two dimensions of SES were associated with completed fertility rather independently of each other, which shows the importance of not viewing SES as a unidimensional phenomenon that can be reduced to either education or class. We also find substantial heterogeneities in the fertility differentials by region, time period, and fertility regime. Both social class and educational gradients were quite uniform over time, but when looking at phases of the fertility transition, the class gradient was strongest and most consistent in mid transition, and least visible in post-transition contexts.

2nd half

Economic Uncertainty and Fertility Cycles: The Case of the Post WWII Baby Boom

Bastien Chabé-Ferret*, Paula Gobbi

Using the US Census waves 1940-1990 and CPS 1990-2010, we look at how economic uncertainty affected fertility cycles over the course of the XXth century. We use cross- state and cross-cohort variation in the volatility of income growth to identify the causal link running from uncertainty to fertility. We find that economic uncertainty has a large and robust negative effect on completed fertility. We hypothesize that a greater economic uncertainty increases the risk of large consumption swings, which individuals mitigate by postponing fertility and ultimately decreasing their completed fertility. Differences in volatility account for between 45% and 61% of the one child variation observed during the post WWII baby boom.

Using the US Census waves 1940-1990 and CPS 1990-2010, we look at how economic uncertainty affected fertility cycles over the course of the XXth century. We use cross- state and cross-cohort variation in the volatility of income growth to identify the causal link running from uncertainty to fertility. We find that economic uncertainty has a large and robust negative effect on completed fertility. We hypothesize that a greater economic uncertainty increases the risk of large consumption swings, which individuals mitigate by postponing fertility and ultimately decreasing their completed fertility. Differences in volatility account for between 45% and 61% of the one child variation observed during the post WWII baby boom.

Forced Migration and Human Capital: Evidence from Post-WWII Population Transfers

Sascha O. Becker*, Irena Grosfeld, Pauline Grosjean, Nico Voigtländer, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya

We exploit a unique historical setting to study the long-run effects of forced migration on investment in education. After World War II, the Polish borders were redrawn, resulting in largescale migration. Poles were forced to move from the Kresy territories in the East (taken over by the USSR) and were resettled mostly to the newly acquired Western Territories, from which Germans were expelled. We combine historical censuses with newly collected survey data to show that, while there were no pre-WWII differences in education, Poles with a family history of forced migration are significantly more educated today. Descendants of forced migrants have on average one extra year of schooling, driven by a higher propensity to finish secondary or higher education. This result holds when we restrict ancestral locations to a subsample around the former Kresy border and include fixed effects for the destination of migrants. As Kresy migrants were of the...

We exploit a unique historical setting to study the long-run effects of forced migration on investment in education. After World War II, the Polish borders were redrawn, resulting in largescale migration. Poles were forced to move from the Kresy territories in the East (taken over by the USSR) and were resettled mostly to the newly acquired Western Territories, from which Germans were expelled. We combine historical censuses with newly collected survey data to show that, while there were no pre-WWII differences in education, Poles with a family history of forced migration are significantly more educated today. Descendants of forced migrants have on average one extra year of schooling, driven by a higher propensity to finish secondary or higher education. This result holds when we restrict ancestral locations to a subsample around the former Kresy border and include fixed effects for the destination of migrants. As Kresy migrants were of the same ethnicity and religion as other Poles, we bypass confounding factors of other cases of forced migration. We show that labor market competition with natives and selection of migrants are also unlikely to drive our results. Survey evidence suggests that forced migration led to a shift in preferences, away from material possessions and towards investment in a mobile asset – human capital. The effects persist over three generations.

The rise and fall of immigration in a divided country. Italy 1977-2016.

Asher Colombo*, Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna*

During the last forty years, two new strong migratory flows have appeared in Europe: emigrations from the ex-communist countries, immigrations into the Mediterranean countries. This second flow hits for speed and relevance. In 2016 in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece lived more than ten million foreigners, and their proportion compared to the total population was close to that of countries with much older immigration history. Forty years before, however, in those countries of foreigners there were practically none. Italy has contributed significantly to writing this new chapter of international migration. Reversing a secular trend, at the beginning of the Nineties the balance of migration with foreign countries became positive. After the last two decades of the 20th century, characterized by a gradual increase in entrances, in the first part of the 21st century there was a real immigration boom, followed by a sudden immigration bust in the subsequent years of...

During the last forty years, two new strong migratory flows have appeared in Europe: emigrations from the ex-communist countries, immigrations into the Mediterranean countries. This second flow hits for speed and relevance. In 2016 in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece lived more than ten million foreigners, and their proportion compared to the total population was close to that of countries with much older immigration history. Forty years before, however, in those countries of foreigners there were practically none. Italy has contributed significantly to writing this new chapter of international migration. Reversing a secular trend, at the beginning of the Nineties the balance of migration with foreign countries became positive. After the last two decades of the 20th century, characterized by a gradual increase in entrances, in the first part of the 21st century there was a real immigration boom, followed by a sudden immigration bust in the subsequent years of weakness in the economy, also accompanied by a revival of emigration. This article has a dual purpose. Firstly, we describe forty years of Italian migration (1977-2017), distinguishing in a systematic way between Centre-North and South-Islands, because the migration history of these two areas has been very different. We show how the stop and go migration in recent years can be interpreted in light of the structural changes in demography and the labor market in Italy, given the inability (or lack of will) of the public hand to govern the entrances and exits from and for abroad. Secondly – without pretending to deal with the complex theme of the integration of foreigners into Italian society – we observe some persistent and structural peculiarities that modeled and continue to model foreign presence in Italy, following very different ways than those observed in Central and Northern Europe.

Migration and Selection Patterns of University Scholars in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

David de la Croix*, Frédéric Docquier, Alice Fabre and Robert Stelter

Medieval universities are one of the most original creation of the Western Civilization. In universities, students were educated by a plurality of masters, and schools were open to students and scholars from all parts of Europe. In this paper, we show that such an openness was reflected in the mobility of professors, and their migration pattern is associated with individual quality and skills. We build a database of thousands of scholars from the medieval era and study their destination choice. Quality of scholars is measured by their publications and by 21th century notoriety. We show that the utility of moving to a given university decreases with distance and increases with the attractiveness of the destination city and of the quality of the university. We also show that the more talented scholars were less sensitive to distance and more sensitive to pull factors. Such long distance migration and positive selection of...

Medieval universities are one of the most original creation of the Western Civilization. In universities, students were educated by a plurality of masters, and schools were open to students and scholars from all parts of Europe. In this paper, we show that such an openness was reflected in the mobility of professors, and their migration pattern is associated with individual quality and skills. We build a database of thousands of scholars from the medieval era and study their destination choice. Quality of scholars is measured by their publications and by 21th century notoriety. We show that the utility of moving to a given university decreases with distance and increases with the attractiveness of the destination city and of the quality of the university. We also show that the more talented scholars were less sensitive to distance and more sensitive to pull factors. Such long distance migration and positive selection of university scholars might have been instrumental in the later rise of the West.

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