Publication Details

Marsiglio, S. (2011). On the relationship between population change and sustainable development. Research in Economics, 65 (4), 353-364.


This paper investigates the relationship between population growth and economic growth, through the study of fertility choices and their effects on natural resources. It aims at analyzing the interactions between endogenous fertility choices and the environment and their link to the sustainable matter. We analyze a growth model driven by natural resources and without production, where agents have jointly to determine consumption and fertility, taking into account the effects of their decisions on the dynamics of natural resources. We adopt the most optimistic view on natural capital (it generates endogenous growth) and the weakest notion of sustainable paths (all variables are positive): in such a framework we expect that sustainable paths exist. We instead show that this is not always true. In fact, even if renewal capacity of natural resources is unbounded, not always can a sustainable path be found: this depends on the difference between the stationary fertility rate and the mortality rate. If the stationary fertility is lower than the mortality rate, a sustainable path will not be found, and in such a case public intervention is necessary in order to address the economy along a sustainable path. This can simply be done through policies affecting public attention to environmental protection or the intensity of the dilution effect.

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