Competitive Exclusion, Diversification, and the Origins of Agriculture
AbstractThe beginnings of agriculture, or the agricultural revolution, is now recognized to be the widespread adoption of known practices – a change in behavior – as opposed to a phenomenon of discovery and innovation. In this paper, we combine elements of three theories—climate change, property rights, and competitive exclusion—to create a paleoeconomic model of agriculture and its diffusion. We focus on climate change as a necessary trigger, which combined with group property rights and competitive exclusion processes produced conditions sufficient for the diffusion of early agriculture. In contrast to other models in which farming emerges as technological progress or climate makes it a more productive option than hunting, farming emerges in our model even if farmers are poor hunters and cannot sustain themselves with agriculture alone. Moreover, the strategy of farming can invade the system even if farmers initially generate lower per capita consumption than hunters. The key is that the simple innovation of property rights over an immobile resource can help to insulate farmers from competitive ecological pressures.
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