Fertility choice, land, and the Malthusian hypothesis

Z. Eckstein, S. Stern, K. I. Wolpin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a standard overlapping generations growth model, with a fixed amount of land and endogenous fertility, the competitive economy converges to a steady state with a zero population growth rate and positive consumption per capita. The Malthusian hypothesis is interpreted as a positive statement about the relationship between population growth and consumption per-capita, when production exhibits diminishing returns to labor and there is a fixed amount of land essential for production. Even when individuals care only about the number of their children and not about their children's welfare, the equilibrium is such that they eventually would choose to have only one child for each adult. Hence, if Malthus's "positive check' on population is the result of the response of optimizing agents to competitively determined prices, Malthus's pessimistic conjecture is not necessarily true, even though his other assumptions hold. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-361
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Economic Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1988


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