Social Science > Demography

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Josef Platzer and Marcel Peruffo
We develop a heterogeneous agent, overlapping generations model with nonhomothetic preferences that nests several explanations for the decline in the natural rate of interest (r∗) suggested in the literature: demographic change, a slowdown in productivity growth, a rise in income inequality, and public policy. The model can account for a 2.2 percentage point (pp) decline in r∗ between 1975 and 2015, which is within the range of empirical estimates. Rising income inequality is an important driver (-0.70 pp), and together with demographic change (-0.71 pp) and the slowdown in productivity growth (-1.0 pp) explains most of the decline. Growing public debt is the major counteracting force (+0.31 pp). Permanent income inequality is of greater importance than inequality due to uninsurable income risk, and matching the degree of nonhomotheticity in consumption and savings behavior to empirical estimates is essential for this result. We predict that r∗ will reach a low of 0.38% by 2030, after which a slow reversal will begin. The natural rate will stabilize at 1% in the long run, a low level when compared with the postwar path of r∗ implied by the model. This remains true even if we take into account soaring public debt levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Policy can have considerable impact on the level of r∗ through the tax and transfer system.
Thomas McGregor
We investigate the role of business dynamism in the transmission of monetary policy by exploitingthe variation in firm demographics across U.S. states. Using local projections, we find that a larger fraction of young firms significantly mutes the effects of monetary policy on the labor market and personal income over the medium term. The firm entry rate and the employment share of young firms are key factors underpinning these results, which are robust to a battery of robustness tests. We develop a heterogeneous-firm model with age-dependent financial frictions that rationalizes the empirical evidence.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This Selected Issues paper assesses the relationship between demographic trends and housing prices in Japan. Among various issues in the context of regional disparities, the paper focus on regional differences in population dynamics to try and understand to what extent demographic trends have influenced housing market prices in Japan in the past twenty years. Large cities, notably the Greater Tokyo area, are experiencing net migration inflows, while other regions are experiencing net migration outflows. Due to the durability of housing compared to other forms of investment, the magnitude of house price declines associated with population losses is larger than that of house price increases associated with population gains. These model-based predictions are likely to underestimate the actual fall in house prices associated with future population losses, as expectations of lower housing prices in the future could trigger more population outflows and disposal of houses, especially in rural areas. The paper suggests policy measures to help close regional disparities and avoid potential over-investment by taking account of demographic trends for housing supply.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on cross-country differences in savings rates in advanced European countries. It explores a range of demographic, fiscal and financial factors that could explain why household savings are low in Portugal compared to its peers. Portugal’s household saving rate is lower than those of the average European country. This difference can be explained by Portugal’s lower disposable income, lower financial net wealth, higher old-age dependency ratio, higher government spending on pensions and on social protection benefits, and higher homeownership ratio, as suggested by a comparison against another 14 European countries conducted with the aid of panel regressions. Other factors that could underlie Portugal’s low household saving are the country’s lower education levels, fertility rate, and private pension coverage. Many of these factors are not amenable to simple or direct policy interventions, although some policy initiatives aimed at higher level objectives, such as promoting economic growth, could have positive side effects on household saving. More specific policy options to boost household saving include measures to promote private occupational and personal plans, including some changes in taxation, and developing incentives to work past age 65.