Population Growth, Institutions, and Human Well-being

Seth Norton (Wheaton College)

Abstract: Contemporary research stresses the importance of economic institutions in enhancing economic growth and human well-being. The present paper builds on that research by integrating the economics of institutions with the economics of population. Empirical analysis in this paper shows that strong property rights in a country reduce fertility rates even after accounting for other factors. Empirical analysis also shows that population growth has only modest adverse effects on cross-national poverty measures while stronger property rights have powerful positive effects in reducing poverty. The data also show that while population growth does have some adverse effects on the environment, stronger property rights can ameliorate those adverse effects.

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