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Pipe dreams and tunnel visions: economists and Australian population debates before the Baby Boom

Coleman, William

Description

Australia is notably, if not notoriously, a land of much space but few people. Its population density is, correspondingly, almost the lowest of any country in the world: only Namibia and Mongolia record a lower figure. Australia’s extreme divergence from the common human experience has been a magnet for strong reactions; and Australia’s small population has frequently judged either being a failing or a blessing. Economists, however, have in the past two generations tended to keep their silence...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorColeman, William
dc.date.accessioned2012-09-12T00:23:19Z
dc.date.available2012-09-12T00:23:19Z
dc.identifier.citationColman, W. (2012). Pipe Dreams and Tunnel Visions: Economists and Australian Population Debates before the Baby Boom. Centre For Economic History, The Australian National University Discussion Paper Series; Discussion Paper No. 2012-2. Canberra, ACT: ANU, Centre for Economic History
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/9299
dc.description.abstractAustralia is notably, if not notoriously, a land of much space but few people. Its population density is, correspondingly, almost the lowest of any country in the world: only Namibia and Mongolia record a lower figure. Australia’s extreme divergence from the common human experience has been a magnet for strong reactions; and Australia’s small population has frequently judged either being a failing or a blessing. Economists, however, have in the past two generations tended to keep their silence on this issue. But for about 20 years prior to the postWar baby boom economists did have some confidence that simple economic theory could constitute a guide to population policy, under the rubric of ‘optimal population’ theory. This paper reviews Australian explorations of ‘optimal population’ in the period, and concludes the episode provides a moral on the frustrations that may meet hopes that simple economic theory can provide answers to large questions.
dc.format25 pages
dc.publisherCanberra, ACT: Centre for Economic History, Australian National University
dc.relation.ispartofseriesCEH Discussion Paper Series; no. 2012-2
dc.rightsThis work has been made available in the ANU Research repository at the email request on 29 August 2012 from the Centre Administrator at the Research School of Economics
dc.source.urihttps://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/ceh/WP201202.pdf
dc.titlePipe dreams and tunnel visions: economists and Australian population debates before the Baby Boom
dc.typeWorking/Technical Paper
local.description.notesSeries also known as CEH Working Paper Series and CEH Discussion Paper Series. This chapter is a revised version of an earlier paper that was presented at the British Academy conference Lessons from the 1930s Great Depression for the Making of Economic Policy, and that subsequently appeared in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 26, pp. 463-485.
dc.date.issued2012-03
local.publisher.urlhttp://rse.anu.edu.au/CEH/
local.type.statusPublished version
local.contributor.affiliationColeman, William, THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
dcterms.accessRightsOpen Access
CollectionsANU Research School of Economics (RSE)

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