Let’s Put Demography Back into Economics: Population Pyramids in Excel

Humberto Barreto, DePauw University

This is an accepted manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Journal of Economic Educationon December 1, 2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00220485.2017.1397577


The economics curriculum today does not emphasize the study of population. This needs to change immediately because we are in the midst of another demographic sea change, slamming on the brakes right after a rapid acceleration during the last half of the 20th century. Instead of glibly tossing a dependency ratio onto a slide, this paper offers an easy way to improve demographic literacy using population pyramids. Simulation is used to explain the pyramid and its dynamic properties, and then real‐world data are presented. Microsoft Excel’s ability to act as a browser and download data with a single click of a button provides a flexible, powerful tool to explore historic, current, and predicted age distributions of various countries. Download PopPyr.xlsm from https://archive.org/details/PopPyr.