Abstract

We propose a new theory of the demographic transition based on the evidence that body development during childhood is an important predictor of adult life expectancy. This theory is embodied in an OLG framework where fertility, longevity and education all result from individual decisions. The model displays different regimes, allowing the economy to move slowly from an initial Malthusian regime towards the Modern era. The dynamics reproduces the key features of the demographic transition, including the permanent increase in life expectancy, resulting from improvements in body development, the hump in both population growth and fertility, and a late increase in secondary educational attainments.