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Sex, Equality, and Growth (in that order)

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  • Nils-Petter Lagerlof

    (Concordia University)

Abstract

We set up a unified growth model capturing the transition of a primitive and egalitarian hunter-gatherer society, into an advanced and despotic early civilization, and finally into a more egalitarian industrial society. Agents are either landowners or landless; both earn income from human capital, but only landowners earn income from land. The central assumption is that the accumulation of human capital increases with the number of people engaged in intellectual activities, ``thinking.'' For an agent to be a thinker he must be sufficiently rich. At early stages of development, when human capital is scarce, only landowners can afford to think. Human capital thus grows with the size of the landowning class. With polygynous mating, rich landowners attract more women than landless, and thus have more offspring. This leads to a slow expansion in the size of the landowning class and thus a gradual increase in the levels of human capital. At some stage human capital may reach a critical level beyond which also landless agents become thinkers. The set a thinkers then suddenly expands, raising human capital productivity and pushing the economy to sustained growth: an industrial revolution. Allowing also for a quantity-quality trade-off in children a demographic transition sets in. But the economy may also follow a path leading to the downfall of the civilization, and a slow transition back into an egalitarian hunter-gatherer state. Which path the economy follows depends on the level of land productivity. An agricultural revolution is thus a necessary precondition for a later industrial revolution.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 0212012.

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Date of creation: 22 Dec 2002
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Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0212012

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Keywords: Polygyny; equality; growth; population;

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References

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  1. Eric D. Gould & Omer Moav & Avi Simhon, 2008. "The Mystery of Monogamy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 333-57, March.
  2. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert F. Tamura, 1990. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection And The Origin Of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1133-1191, November.
  4. Graziella Bertocchi, 2006. "The Law of Primogeniture and the Transition from Landed Aristocracy to Industrial Democracy," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 43-70, 03.
  5. Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Was an Industrial Revolution Inevitable? Economic Growth Over the Very Long Run," NBER Working Papers 7375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, 2002. "Does the Mortality Decline Promote Economic Growth?," Macroeconomics 0212008, EconWPA.
  7. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 1999. "Malthus to Solow," Staff Report 257, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Kalemli-Ozcan, Sebnem & Ryder, Harl E. & Weil, David N., 2000. "Mortality decline, human capital investment, and economic growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 1-23, June.
  9. Ted Bergstrom, 1994. "On the Economics of Polygyny," Microeconomics 9410001, EconWPA.
  10. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2004. "From Physical to Human Capital Accumulation: Inequality and the Process of Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(4), pages 1001-1026.
  11. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2004. "Land Inequality and the Origin of Divergence and Overtaking in the Growth Process: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 2003-04, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  12. 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.
  13. Barro, R.J. & Becker, G.S., 1988. "Fertility Choice In A Model Of Economic Growth," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 88-8, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  14. Burkett, John P & Humblet, Catherine & Putterman, Louis, 1999. "Preindustrial and Postwar Economic Development: Is There a Link?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(3), pages 471-95, April.
  15. Galor, Oded & Weil, David, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2082, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. 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.
  17. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2001. "Das Human Kapital," CEPR Discussion Papers 2701, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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Cited by:
  1. Avi Simhon & Eric D. Gould & Omer Moav, 2005. "The Mystery of Monogamy," 2005 Meeting Papers 370, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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