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BECKER AND THE DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION

  • Ronald Lee (a1)

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It was a different era when Gary Becker did his groundbreaking work on the economics of fertility, during the years from the late 1950 through the early 1990s. There was great concern then about the “population explosion” due to sustained high fertility in the developing world after mortality declined following World War II. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich published “The Population Bomb” predicting disaster and mass starvation due to rapid population growth: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines – hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death. . . .” Robert McNamara, then the President of the World Bank, in 1984 said “Short of thermonuclear war itself, population growth is the gravest issue the world faces over the decades immediately ahead. If we do not act, the problem will be solved by famine, riots, insurrection and war.”

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Becker, G. and Barro, R. (1988) A reformulation of the economic theory of fertility. Quarterly Journal of Economics 103 (1), 125.
Becker, G. S. (1960) An economic analysis of fertility. In: Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries, pp. 209240. National Bureau of Economic Research, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Becker, G. S. (1991) A Treatise on the Family, 2nd ed.Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Becker, G. S. and Lewis, H. G. (1973) On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children. The Journal of Political Economy, vol. 81 (2), Part 2: New Economic Approaches to Fertility (Mar. - Apr.), pp. S279-S288.
Becker, G. S. and Murphy, K. M. (1988), Journal of Law and Economics, April, vol. 31(1), pp. 1–18.
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Easterlin, R. A. (1969) Towards a socio-economic theory of fertility: a survey of recent research on economic factors in American fertility. In Behrman, S. J.et al. (eds.), Fertility and Family Planning: A World View. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Lee, R. (2003) The demographic transition: Three centuries of fundamental change. Journal of Economic Perspectives 17 (4), 167190.
Leibenstein, H. (1957) Economic Backwardness and Economic Growth, New York: Wiley and Sons.
Mincer, J. (1963) Market Prices, Opportunity Costs, and Income Effects. In Christ, C. F. (ed.), Measurement in Economics: Studies in Mathematical Economics and Econometrics in Memory of Yehuda Grunfield, pp. 6782. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Notestein, F. W. (1953) Economic problems of population change. Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference of Agricultural Economists, pp. 1331. London: Oxford University Press.
Willis, R. (1994) Economic analysis of fertility: micro-foundations and aggregate implications. In Kiessling, K. L. and Landberg, H. (eds.), Population and Economic Development and the Environment, pp. 139172. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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BECKER AND THE DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION

  • Ronald Lee (a1)

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