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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. Ted Bergstrom, . "On the Economic of Polygyny," Papers _032, University of Michigan, Department of Economics.
  2. Kalemli-Ozcan, Sebnem, 2002. " Does the Mortality Decline Promote Economic Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 411-39, December.
  3. Gould, Eric D & Moav, Omer & Simhon, Avi, 2004. "The Mystery of Monogamy," CEPR Discussion Papers 4803, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 1999. "From Physical to Human Capital Accumulation: Inequality in the Process of Development," Working Papers 99-27, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  5. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 150-154, May.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M & Tamura, Robert, 1990. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S12-37, October.
  9. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Malthus to Solow," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1205-1217, September.
  10. 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.
  11. Robert J. Barro & Gary S. Becker, . "Fertility Choice in a Model of Economic Growth," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 88-8, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  12. Gary S. Becker & Robert J. Barro, . "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 85-11, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  13. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer & Vollrath, Dietrich, 2003. "Land Inequality and the Origin of Divergence and Overtaking in the Growth Process: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 3817, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Das Human Kapital," Working Papers 2000-17, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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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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