Ronald Lee

Professor of Demography, Professor of Economics
Department of Demography
Department of Economics
(510) 642-4535
(510) 643-8558
Research Expertise and Interest
economics, evolutionary theory, mathematical demography, population aging, intergenerational transfers, economic demography, life history theory, population forecasting, national transfer accounts

I am interested in the age dimension of aggregate economies and, related to this, in patterns of intergenerational transfers. I co-direct a large international project on this topic, called National Transfer Accounts. Currently 36 countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe, North America and Oceania, each with its own research team, participate in this project. The goal is to improve understanding of the economic consequences of changing population age distributions, including the sustainability of public programs, investment in human capital of children, the interrelation of public and familial systems of intergenerational transfers, and the influence of culture and institutions on the demand for capital. I am also interested in evolutionary life history theory, that is, the theory of how evolution has shaped age patterns of fertility, mortality, parental investment in offspring,and other aspects of the life history of humans and other species. I also work on stochastic projections of demographic variables and government budgets. Related work considers the design of public pension systems and how these perform in a stochastic economic-demographic environment.

In the News

October 9, 2014

Low birth rates can actually pay off in the U.S. and other countries

As birth rates decline in countries that include parts of Europe and East Asia, threatening the economic slowdown associated with aging populations, a global study from UC Berkeley and the East-West Center in Hawaii suggests that in much of the world, it actually pays to have fewer children.

November 2, 2010

Grant launches Berkeley Economic History Lab

The University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Economics is the recipient of a $1.25 million grant from the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) to develop a Berkeley Economic History Laboratory to train more historically literate economists who can contribute to policy debates and help avoid devastating economic crises.

April 14, 2010

For post-boomers, public education is worth more than Social Security and Medicare

It's easy to assume retiring baby boomers will benefit from Social Security and Medicare at the expense of younger generations, as analysts estimate that these government-run programs will pay out more than they collect in payroll taxes by 2017. But a far-reaching new study from UC Berkeley concludes that younger Americans are actually getting the better deal when the value of public education is also taken into account.