Good paper by M. Juselius and E. Takats on “The enduring link between demography and inflation” pointing to the fact that:

  • an increase in the share of the dependent population is generally associated with higher inflation; and
  • aging is set to increase the share of dependents, reversing a previous trend.

Is inflation then set to burst higher? It depends.

First, even though the global dependency ratio is rising, its level is not the same for each country. For example, China’s current dependency ratio at 40 is 58% of Japan’s at 68. US dependency ratio is forecast to rise the least; in fact, in the mid-2030s, it is forecast to start declining again.

Second, a lower dependency ratio, even though a rising one, should in theory cause less upward pressure on inflation. By that measure, US inflation may rise but would probably rise less than UK’s and EU’s; in fact, by 2050, with US dependency ratio the lowest among these major countries, one would expect US inflation to be the most subdued.

Third, Japan’s dependency ratio has been rising pretty much since the great crash in 1990, and, in 2007, it surpassed these other countries’ dependency ratios, while this whole time has coincided with a period of consistent deflation there: obviously there are other, presumably, much stronger determinants of inflation.

Fourth, and to the latter point, with the advance of technology, labor’s role in the production function is becoming less important. Does that mean that demography’s role in influencing inflation is also fading?