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Malthusian Population Dynamics: Theory and Evidence

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Abstract

This paper empirically tests the existence of Malthusian population dynamics in the pre-Industrial Revolution era. The theory suggests that, during the agricultural stage of development, resource surpluses beyond the maintenance of subsistence consumption were channeled primarily into population growth. In particular, societies naturally blessed by higher land productivity would have supported larger populations, given the level of socioeconomic development. Moreover, given land productivity, societies in more advanced stages of development, as reflected by their cumulative experience with the agricultural technological paradigm since the Neolithic Revolution, would have sustained higher population densities. Using exogenous cross-country variations in the natural productivity of land and in the timing of the Neolithic Revolution, the analysis demonstrates that, in accordance with the Malthusian theory, societies that were characterized by higher land productivity and an earlier onset of agriculture had a higher population density in the time period 1-1500 CE.

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File URL: http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Economics/Papers/2008/2008-6_paper.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Brown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2008-6.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:bro:econwp:2008-6

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Postal: Department of Economics, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912

Related research

Keywords: Growth; Technological Progress; Population Dynamics; Land Productivity; Neolithic Revolution; Malthusian Stagnation;

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Cited by:
  1. Guilló, María Dolores & Pérez-Sebastián, Fidel, 2012. "Neoclassical Growth and the Natural Resource Curse Puzzle," QM&ET Working Papers 12-14, Universidad de Alicante, Departamento de Métodos Cuantitativos y Teoría Económica.
  2. Brian Snowdon, 2008. "Towards a Unified Theory of Economic Growth," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 9(2), pages 97-151, April.
  3. Oksana Leukhina & Michael Bar, 2010. "The Role of Mortality in the Transmission of Knowledge," 2010 Meeting Papers 1256, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Guzmán, Ricardo Andrés, 2008. "The Neolithic Revolution from a price-theoretic perspective," MPRA Paper 10069, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Strulik, Holger & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2009. "The Determinants of Subsistence Income in a Malthusian World," Diskussionspapiere der Wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Leibniz Universität Hannover dp-420, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  6. Peura, Pekka, 2013. "From Malthus to sustainable energy—Theoretical orientations to reforming the energy sector," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 309-327.
  7. Staley, Mark, 2008. "Innovation, Diffusion and the Distribution of Income in a Malthusian Economy," MPRA Paper 9849, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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