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Subsistence – A Bio-economic Foundation of the Malthusian Equilibrium

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  • Carl-Johan Dalgaard

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Holger Strulik

    (University of Hannover)

Abstract

This paper develops a bio-economic Malthusian growth model. By integrating recent research on allometric scaling, energy consumption, and ontogenetic growth we provide a model where subsistence consumption is endogenously linked to body mass and fertility. The theory admits a two-dimensional Malthusian equilibrium characterized by population density and body mass (metabolic rate) of the representative adult. As a result, the analysis allows us to examine the link between, in particular, human biology and long run income, body mass and population size. Off the steady-state we investigate the possibility of cyclical behavior of the size of a population and the size of its representative member. We also demonstrate that a take-off into sustained growth should be associated with increasing income, population size, and body mass. The increase in the latter is, however, bounded and can be viewed as convergence to a biologically determined upper limit.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 06-17.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0617

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Keywords: Subsistence; Nutrition; Metabolism; Population Growth; Ontogenetic Growth; Malthus;

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  1. Fogel, Robert W, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 369-95, June.
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  3. Köpke, Nikola & Baten, Jörg, 2003. "The biological standard of living in Europe during the last two millennia," Tübinger Diskussionsbeiträge 265, University of Tübingen, School of Business and Economics.
  4. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," Arbetsrapport, Institute for Futures Studies 2000:5, Institute for Futures Studies.
  5. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 1999. "From Physical to Human Capital Accumulation: Inequality in the Process of Development," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 2307, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Kraay, Aart & Raddatz, Claudio, 2005. "Poverty traps, aid, and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3631, The World Bank.
  7. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth, Elsevier, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293 Elsevier.
  8. Dasgupta, Partha, 1997. "Nutritional status, the capacity for work, and poverty traps," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 5-37, March.
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  12. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2005. "From Foraging To Farming: Explaining The Neolithic Revolution," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(4), pages 561-586, 09.
  13. Holger Strulik, 2005. "Geography, Health, and Demo-Economic Development," Discussion Papers 05-15, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  14. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
  15. George B. Roberts, Chairman, Universities-National Bureau Committee for Economic Research, 1960. "Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number univ60-2, July.
  16. Strauss, John, 1986. "Does Better Nutrition Raise Farm Productivity?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 297-320, April.
  17. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  18. Richard H. Steckel, 2001. "Health and Nutrition in the Preindustrial Era: Insights from a Millennium of Average Heights in Northern Europe," NBER Working Papers 8542, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2007. "‘The Child is Father of the Man:’ Implications for the Demographic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 6493, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Strulik, Holger, 2007. "Geography, Health, and the Pace of Demo-Economic Development," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP), Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät dp-361, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  3. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2007. "Rediscovering the Solow Model: An Energy Network Approach," Discussion Papers 07-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

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