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psc brown bag iconDemographic Transitions and Global Economic Inequality

Parfait M. Eloundou-Enyegue (Development Sociology and Demography, Cornell Population Program, Cornell University)

10/01/2012, at noon in room 6050 ISR-Thompson.

Archived video available.

Global demographic trends might be widening economic inequality worldwide but these effects remain understudied, reflecting three subtle biases in past research. First, scholarship on the demographic dividend has focused on average gains rather than potential disequalization. Second, the few studies of global inequality that address demographic influences have focused on the mechanical effects of population size (as a denominator or a weight variable) rather than the more substantive influences of age structure. Third, standard measures of inequality tend to be “middle-class centric” in ways that may overlook the growing inequality among poor countries currently undergoing demographic transitions.
This presentation attempts to shed new light on the influences of demographic change on economic inequality across and within countries. Across countries, we use a slight modification of classic decomposition methods to estimate the contribution of national changes in age structure to the trends in global income inequality. Within countries, and especially within sub-Saharan countries, we use DHS survey data and new decomposition approaches to monitor how asymmetric fertility transition might work to concentrate reproduction among the poor and therefore exacerbate inequality.


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