Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

On the Consequences of Demographic Change for Rates of Returns to Capital, and the Distribution of Wealth and Welfare

Krueger, Dirk
Volume: 54
Number: 1
Pages: 49 - 87
Month: January
ISSN-Print: 0304-3932
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2007
Keywords: Population Aging; International Capital Flows; Distribution of Welfare

This paper employs a multi-country large-scale Overlapping Generations model with uninsurable labor productivity and mortality risk to quantify the impact of the demographic transition towards an older population in industrialized countries on world-wide rates of return, international capital flows and the distribution of wealth and welfare in the OECD. We find that for the U.S. as an open economy, rates of return are predicted to decline by 86 basis points between 2005 and 2080 and wages increase by about 4.1%. If the U.S. were a closed economy, rates of return would decline and wages increase by less. This is due to the fact that other regions in the OECD will age even more rapidly; therefore the U.S. is “importing” the more severe demographic transition from the rest of the OECD in the form of larger factor price changes. In terms of welfare, our model suggests that young agents with little assets and currently low labor productivity gain, up to 1%1% in consumption, from higher wages associated with population aging. Older, asset-rich households tend to lose, because of the predicted decline in real returns to capital.