International Monetary Fund. Communications Department
This issue of Finance & Development discusses link between demographics and economic well-being. In the coming decades, demographics is expected to be more favorable to economic well-being in the less developed regions than in the more developed regions. The age structure of a population reflects mainly its fertility and mortality history. In high-mortality populations, improved survival tends to occur disproportionately among children. The “demographic dividend” refers to the process through which a changing age structure can spur economic growth. It depends, of course, on several complex factors, including the nature and pace of demographic change, the operation of labor and capital markets, macroeconomic management and trade policies, governance, and human capital accumulation. Population aging is the dominant demographic trend of the twenty-first century—a reflection of increasing longevity, declining fertility, and the progression of large cohorts to older ages. Barring a change in current trends, the industrial world’s working-age population will decline over the next generation, and China’s working-age population will decline as well. At the same time, trends toward increased labor force participation of women have played out with, for example, more women than men now working in the United States.
Pacific island countries are highly vulnerable to various natural disasters which are destructive, unpredictable and occur frequently. The frequency and scale of these shocks heightens the importance of medium-term economic and fiscal planning to minimize the adverse impact of disasters on economic development. This paper identifies the intensity of natural disasters for each country in the Pacific based on the distribution of damage and population affected by disasters, and estimates the impact of disasters on economic growth and international trade using a panel regression. The results show that “severe” disasters have a significant and negative impact on economic growth and lead to a deterioration of the fiscal and trade balance. We also find that the negative impact on growth is stronger for more intense disasters. Going further this paper proposes a simple and consistent method to adjust IMF staff’s economic projections and debt sustainability analysis for disaster shocks for the Pacific islands. Better incorporating the economic impact of natural disasters in the medium- and long-term economic planning would help policy makers improve fiscal policy decisions and to be better adapted and prepared for natural disasters.
This paper examines the growth experience of nine South Pacific countries during the period 1971–93, using the analytical framework of the Solow-Swan neoclassical growth model, panel data, and Chamberlain’s П-matrix estimator. The speed of convergence of South Pacific countries to their respective steady-state levels of per capita GDP, after controlling for the important regional effects of net international migration, is estimated at a relatively fast 4 percent per year. In addition, private and official transfers emanating from regional donor countries have kept the dispersion of real per capita national disposable income constant over the period, despite a significant widening in the regional dispersion of real per capita GDP. [JEL F22, O47, O56]