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The Neolithic Revolution from a price-theoretic perspective

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  • Guzmán, Ricardo Andrés
  • Weisdorf, Jacob

Abstract

The adoption of agriculture during the Neolithic period triggered the first demographic explosion in history. When fertility returned to its original level, agriculturalists were more numerous, more poorly nourished, and worked longer hours than their hunter-gatherer ancestors. We develop a dynamic price-theoretic model that rationalizes these events. In the short run, people are lured into agriculture by the increased labor productivity of both adults and children. In the long run, the growth in population overrides the productivity gains, and the later generations of agriculturalists end up being worse-off than the hunter-gatherers. Counter-intuitively, the increase in the labor productivity of children causes the long-run reduction in welfare. In the long run, the increase in adult labor productivity only contributes to population growth.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 96 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
Pages: 209-219

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:96:y:2011:i:2:p:209-219

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

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Keywords: Neolithic Revolution Hunter-gatherers Child labor Thomas Malthus;

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  1. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2011. "The Physiological Foundations of the Wealth of Nations," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-480, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
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  11. Eckstein, Zvi & Stern, Steven & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1988. "Fertility Choice, Land, and the Malthusian Hypothesis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(2), pages 353-61, May.
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  15. Seabright, Paul, 2008. "Warfare and the Multiple Adoption of Agriculture After the Last Ice Age," IDEI Working Papers 522, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
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Cited by:
  1. Rowthorn, Robert & Seabright, Paul, 2010. "Property Rights, Warfare and the Neolithic Transition," IDEI Working Papers 654, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.

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