An earlier paper from Michael Kremer, this paper considers the two main arguments on the nature of population. As this blog post by Alex Tabarrok argues, it all boils down to whether more people means more strain on resources, or whether more people means more ideas and more prosperity.

Kremer assesses the available evidence of the human existence, and finds, so far, support for the “more humans means more ideas” side of the tale.



The nonrivalry of technology, as modeled in the endogenous growth literature, implies that high population spurs technological change. This paper constructs and empirically tests a model of long-run world population growth combining this implication with the Malthusian assumption that technology limits population. The model predicts that over most of history, the growth rate of population will be proportional to its level. Empirical tests support this prediction and show that historically, among societies with no possibility for technological contact, those with larger initial populations have had faster technological change and population growth.



"Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716.