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A 'Bioeconomic' View of the Neolithic and Recent Demographic Transitions

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The demographic transitions here are associated with: 1) The shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture. 2) The industrial revolution. There are puzzles associated with both of these. In the neolithic transition to agriculture, humans became less well-fed, smaller, more prone to disease and lived shorter lives. Why then was this new system chosen? During the second, or 'recent', transition, fertility fell markedly, despite an overall rise in income. Why did individuals not use the extra income to produce more offspring? The present paper develops simple models of choice of the quality and quantity of children, as would have been generated by human evolution, reproducing the key phenomena in these two transitions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University in its series Discussion Papers with number dp07-02.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sfu:sfudps:dp07-02

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Postal: Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
Phone: (778)782-3508
Fax: (778)782-5944
Web page: http://www.sfu.ca/economics.html
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Postal: Working Paper Coordinator, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
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  1. Greenwood,J. & Seshadri,A., 2002. "The U.S. demographic transition," Working papers 2, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  2. Smith, Vernon L, 1975. "The Primitive Hunter Culture, Pleistocene Extinction, and the Rise of Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 727-55, August.
  3. Feinstein, Charles H., 1998. "Pessimism Perpetuated: Real Wages and the Standard of Living in Britain during and after the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 625-658, September.
  4. Gary S. Becker & Robert J. Barro, 1986. "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," NBER Working Papers 1793, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 580-601, June.
  6. Arthur J. Robson & Hillard S. Kaplan, 2003. "The Evolution of Human Life Expectancy and Intelligence in Hunter-Gatherer Economies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 150-169, March.
  7. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2003. "From Foraging to Farming: Explaining the Neolithic Revolution," Discussion Papers 03-41, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  8. 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, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  9. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of economic Growth," Working Papers 2000-18, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  10. Ronald Lee, 1987. "Population dynamics of humans and other animals," Demography, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 443-465, November.
  11. Nicolas Marceau & Gordon M. Myers, 2000. "From Foraging to Agriculture," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 103, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  12. Goldin, Claudia & Katz, Lawrence F, 1996. "Technology, Skill, and the Wage Structure: Insights from the Past," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 252-57, May.
  13. Chesnais, Jean-Claude, 1992. "The Demographic Transition: Stages, Patterns, and Economic Implications," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198286592, September.
  14. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:26:y:2007:i:2:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
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Cited by:
  1. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2004. "Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 9, Econometric Society.
  2. Matthew Baker, 2008. "A structural model of the transition to agriculture," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 257-292, December.
  3. Bruno L. S. Falcao & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2007. "The Demographic Transition and the Sexual Division of Labor," NBER Working Papers 12838, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Matthew J. Baker, 2005. "Technological Progress, Population Growth, Property Rights, and the Transition to Agriculture," Departmental Working Papers 9, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.

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