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Stone Age Economics: The Origins of Agriculture and the Emergence of Non-Food Specialists

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  • Jacob L. Weisdorf

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

This paper examines the prehistoric shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture. Among hunters and gatherers, all community members were engaged in food provision. Agricultural societies, in contrast, avail themselves of non-food specialists. This paper argues that the adoption of agriculture necessitated the introduction of non-food specialists. Since the release of labour from food generating activities stimulates economic development, this implies that the shift to agriculture literally bore the seeds of later economic growth. The model shows, in accordance with archaeological evidence, that hunters and gatherers, faced with redistribution costs arising from division of labour, delay the adoption of agricultural techniques for a period of time, after which a large step forward in food procurement technology–a ’Neolithic revolution’–is associated with the shift to farming.

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File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/2003/0334.pdf/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 03-34.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0334

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Related research

Keywords: hunting-gathering; leisure time; neolithic revolution; nonfood specialists; transition;

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References

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  1. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2001. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2727, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Tamura, Robert, 2002. "Human capital and the switch from agriculture to industry," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 207-242, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Ricardo Andrés Guzmán & Jacob Louis Weisdorf, 2010. "The Neolithic Revolution from a Price-Theoretic Perspective," Discussion Papers 10-13, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  2. Quamrul Ashraf & Stelios Michalopoulos, 2010. "The Climatic Origins of the Neolithic Revolution: Theory and Evidence," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 146, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  3. Ricardo Andrés Guzmán, 2007. "Life-Work Balance During The Neolithic Revolution," Abante, Escuela de Administracion. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 10(2), pages 93-125.
  4. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2005. "From Foraging To Farming: Explaining The Neolithic Revolution," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(4), pages 561-586, 09.
  5. Quamrul Ashraf & Stelios Michalopoulos, 2013. "Climatic Fluctuations and the Diffusion of Agriculture," NBER Working Papers 18765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Matthew Baker, 2008. "A structural model of the transition to agriculture," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 257-292, December.

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