The Transition to Agriculture: Climate Reversals, Population Density, and Technical Change
AbstractUntil about 13,000 years ago all humans obtained their food through hunting and gathering, but thereafter people in some parts of the world began a transition to agriculture. Recent data strongly implicate climate change as the driving force behind the agricultural transition in southwest Asia. We propose a model of this process in which population and technology respond endogenously to climate. The key idea is that after a lengthy period of favorable environmental conditions during which regional population grew significantly, an abrupt climate reversal forced people to take refuge at a few ecologically favored sites. The resulting spike in local population density reduced the marginal product of labor in foraging and made agriculture attractive. Once agriculture was initiated, rapid technological progress through artificial selection on plant characteristics led to domesticated varieties. Farming became a permanent part of the regional economy when this productivity growth was combined with climate recovery
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by EconWPA in its series Economic History with number 0509003.
Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 09 Sep 2005
Date of revision:
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 42. 42 page pdf file including title page, 6 pages of references, and 6 figures
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://220.127.116.11
origins of agriculture; foraging; hunting and gathering; climate change; population density; technical change; domestication; archaeology; anthropology; economic prehistory;
Other versions of this item:
- Gregory K. Dow & Nancy Olewiler & Clyde Reed, 2005. "The Transition to Agriculture: Climate Reversals, Population Density, and Technical Change," Working Papers dp05-01, CRABE, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
- N - Economic History
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AGR-2005-09-17 (Agricultural Economics)
- NEP-ALL-2005-09-17 (All new papers)
- NEP-EFF-2005-09-17 (Efficiency & Productivity)
- NEP-ENV-2005-09-17 (Environmental Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Matthew J. Baker, 2003. "An Equilibrium Conflict Model of Land Tenure in Hunter-Gatherer Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(1), pages 124-173, February.
- Douglass C. North & Robert Paul Thomas, 1977. "The First Economic Revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 30(2), pages 229-241, 05.
- Brander, James A & Taylor, M Scott, 1998. "The Simple Economics of Easter Island: A Ricardo-Malthus Model of Renewable Resource Use," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 119-38, March.
- Olsson, Ola & Hibbs Jr., Douglas A., 2000.
"Biogeography and Long-Run Economic Development,"
Working Papers in Economics
26, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 11 Aug 2000.
- 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.
- Nicolas Marceau & Gordon Myers, 2006.
"On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(513), pages 751-772, 07.
- Nicolas Marceau & Gordon Myers, 2005. "On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture," Cahiers de recherche 0502, CIRPEE.
- Olsson, Ola, 2001. "The Rise of Neolithic Agriculture," Working Papers in Economics 57, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
- Locay, Luis, 1989. "From Hunting and Gathering to Agriculture," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(4), pages 737-56, July.
- Locay, Luis, 1997. "Population equilibrium in primitive societies," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 747-767.
- 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.
- Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2003. "From Foraging to Farming: Explaining the Neolithic Revolution," Discussion Papers 03-41, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.