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The reading list below is based on a reading list originally used for an internal GPI reading group. These reading groups are used as a way of doing an early-stage exploration of new areas that seem promising from an academic global priorities research perspective.  Each topic is often used as the theme for one or two weekly discussions, and in most cases those attending the discussion will have read or skimmed the suggested materials beforehand. 

As I thought that it could be a valuable resource for those interested in academic global priorities research, I’m sharing it here, with permission from the authors. All the credit for the list below goes to them.

Disclaimer: The views presented in the readings suggested below do not necessarily represent views held by me, GPI, or any GPI staff member.


This reading list explores the economic literature on population growth, with an emphasis on aspects that are of importance from a GPR perspective. The questions that the readings listed below aim to discuss are the following:

  • What are the past, current and future trends in fertility and population growth?
  • What consequences will a declining population have for economic growth, and for the probability of existential risks?
  • What is the origin of the current decrease in fertility rates?
  • How can policy interventions change the fertility rate?

1. Past and present of Fertility and Population 

2. Medium-term demographic trajectories

3. Religiosity and fertility

4. Understanding low fertility

5. Policy interventions

6. Population decline and economic growth

7. Population decline and extinction risks

8. Welfare aspects of fertility decline





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My colleague Ahmed Ahmed and I summarized research on fertility in the context of the US Child Tax Credit expansion in this UBI Center report last year. We cited the Lyman Stone article from here:

Stone’s research suggests that making it permanent could close between 15% and 65% of the gap to a replacement fertility rate.

My nonprofit PolicyEngine has also been scoping how to predict fertility impacts in our app that computes the impact of custom tax and benefit reforms. Our shallow dive hasn't turned up standard elasticities with respect to current-year policy changes though, so while we could create ones like % change to births with respect to % change to net income of parents of newborns, I don't know how well this would connect well to the literature.

In general, though, Stone finds that baby bonuses are most cost-effective at spurring births. Other evidence suggests that reducing infant poverty improves developmental outcomes more cost-effectively than interventions later in life, and baby bonuses could be easily administered at any level of government (just run payments through the hospitals). In my view, that all makes baby bonuses an underexplored plausibly cost-effective intervention, both from a lobbying/policy perspective and through philanthropic means (a la GiveDirectly).

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