Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

Demographic change, human capital and welfare

Schelke, Thomas
Vogel, Edgar
Volume: 15
Number: 1
Pages: 94 - 107
Month: January
ISSN-Print: 1094-2025
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2012
Keywords: Population aging; Human capital; Rate of return; Distribution of welfare

Projected demographic changes in the U.S. will reduce the share of the working-age population. Analyses based on standard OLG models predict that these changes will increase the capital–labor ratio. Hence, rates of return to capital decrease and wages increase, which has adverse welfare consequences for current cohorts who will be retired when the rate of return is low. This paper argues that adding endogenous human capital accumulation to the standard model dampens these forces. We find that this adjustment channel is quantitatively important. The standard model with exogenous human capital predicts welfare losses up to 12.5%12.5% (5.6%5.6%) of lifetime consumption, when contribution (replacement) rates to the pension system are kept constant. These numbers reduce to approximately 8.7%8.7% (4.4%4.4%) when human capital can endogenously adjust.