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Kevin Kuruc (University of Texas)
October 18, 2023 @ 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Kevin Kuruc is a Senior Researcher at the Population Wellbeing Initiative of the University of Texas at Austin and a Senior Research Affiliate of the Global Priorities Institute at the University of Oxford. His research interests are in applied macroeconomics, environmental economics, and welfare economics. He has work on climate and agricultural economics, population and long-run growth, and international transfers.
Title: “Is Less Really More? Comparing the Climate and Productivity Impacts of a Shrinking Population.”
Abstract: A smaller human population would produce less carbon emissions, other things equal. This fact has led to the view that an important benefit of the present global decline in fertility will be reductions in long-run temperatures. Here we assess the magnitude and economic significance of this relationship. We find that it is quantitatively small and, therefore, insignificant relative to other well-documented effects of population growth. This conclusion follows from facts related to timing: Population sizes respond to growth rate increases with a many-decades lag, by which point per capita emissions are projected to have significantly declined. The additional warming from increased population growth is inconsequential when compared against the resulting productivity gains or reductions in old-age dependency ratios. Furthermore, even the sign of the population-warming relationship is ambiguous when aggregate net-negative emissions are accounted for. A larger future world population would have more aggregate resources to cover the fixed cost of removing the atmospheric GHGs accumulated since industrialization. Alongside other benefits, increased population growth plausibly leads to lower long-run warming.
Kevin Kuruc’s paper can be found here .