Population Aging and Carbon Emissions

As populations age, lifestyles and consumption patterns change. Here is an interesting paper (hat tip Tim Worstall), Population aging and future carbon emissions in the United States. The paper shows that under reasonable assumptions (e.g. population living in elderly households increase from 10% to 20-40% in the long term), aging effects on emissions can be as large, or larger, than technology effects, leading to dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions.


Changes in the age composition of U.S. households over the next several decades could affect energy use and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the most important greenhouse gas. This article incorporates population age structure into an energy–economic growth model with multiple dynasties of heterogeneous households. The model is used to estimate and compare effects of population aging and technical change on baseline paths of U.S. energy use, and CO2 emissions. Results show that population aging reduces long-term emissions, by almost 40% in a low population scenario, and effects of aging on emissions can be as large, or larger than, effects of technical change in some cases…


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