IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/cje/issued/v43y2010i1p280-300.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

A bioeconomic view of the Neolithic transition to agriculture

Author

Listed:
  • Arthur J. Robson

Abstract

Adoption of agriculture at the expense of hunting and gathering was the dramatic precondition for all modern civilization. Recent data suggest that, because of this transition, humans initially were more disease prone, smaller, less nourished, and shorter-lived. To explain why individuals chose agriculture over hunting and gathering, this paper develops a simple model of the evolution of preferences over the quality and quantity of children, as would have been generated by our long history as a species. These preferences would have induced the choice of agriculture, but also would have led to these otherwise puzzling health effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Arthur J. Robson, 2010. "A bioeconomic view of the Neolithic transition to agriculture," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(1), pages 280-300, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:43:y:2010:i:1:p:280-300
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5982.2009.01572.x
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5982.2009.01572.x
    Download Restriction: access restricted to subscribers

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1111/j.1540-5982.2009.01572.x?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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 727-755, August.
    2. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:26:y:2007:i:2:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1133-1191.
    4. Arthur Robson & Tiemen Woutersen, 2007. "The effect of food intake on longevity," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 26(2), pages 1-11.
    5. Weisdorf, Jacob, 2009. "Why did the first farmers toil? Human metabolism and the origins of agriculture," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(2), pages 157-172, August.
    6. Pryor,Frederic L., 2005. "Economic Systems of Foraging, Agricultural, and Industrial Societies," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521613477.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Russell D. Gray & Quentin D. Atkinson, 2003. "Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin," Nature, Nature, vol. 426(6965), pages 435-439, November.
    10. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2005. "From Foraging To Farming: Explaining The Neolithic Revolution," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(4), pages 561-586, September.
    11. Nicolas Marceau & Gordon Myers, 2006. "On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(513), pages 751-772, July.
    12. 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.
    13. Olsson, Ola & Hibbs, Douglas Jr., 2005. "Biogeography and long-run economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 909-938, May.
    14. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2007. "The Neolithic Revolution and Contemporary Variations in Life Expectancy," Working Papers 2007-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    15. Michael Kremer, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716.
    16. Pryor,Frederic L., 2005. "Economic Systems of Foraging, Agricultural, and Industrial Societies," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521849043.
    17. Ronald Lee, 1987. "Population dynamics of humans and other animals," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 24(4), pages 443-465, November.
    18. Locay, Luis, 1989. "From Hunting and Gathering to Agriculture," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(4), pages 737-756, July.
    19. Matthew Baker, 2008. "A structural model of the transition to agriculture," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 257-292, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Economic History > Very Long-run Growth Economics

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Rowthorn, Robert & Seabright, Paul, 2010. "Property Rights, Warfare and the Neolithic Transition," TSE Working Papers 10-207, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    2. Guzmán, Ricardo Andrés & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2011. "The Neolithic Revolution from a price-theoretic perspective," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 209-219, November.
    3. Quamrul Ashraf & Stelios Michalopoulos, 2015. "Climatic Fluctuations and the Diffusion of Agriculture," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(3), pages 589-609, July.
    4. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Jakob B. Madsen & Holger Strulik, 2021. "Physiological constraints and the transition to growth: implications for comparative development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 241-289, September.
    5. Serge Svizzero, 2014. "Pre-Neolithic Economy," Post-Print hal-02152612, HAL.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Weisdorf, Jacob, 2009. "Why did the first farmers toil? Human metabolism and the origins of agriculture," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(2), pages 157-172, August.
    2. Quamrul Ashraf & Stelios Michalopoulos, 2015. "Climatic Fluctuations and the Diffusion of Agriculture," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(3), pages 589-609, July.
    3. Quamrul Ashraf & Stelios Michalopoulos, 2010. "The Climatic Origins of the Neolithic Revolution: Theory and Evidence," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0751, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    4. Lagerlöf, Nils-Petter, 2007. "Long-Run Trends In Human Body Mass," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 367-387, June.
    5. Bulte, Erwin H. & Horan, Richard D. & Shogren, Jason F., 2006. "Coevolutionary Investments in Human Speech and Trade," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21318, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    6. Richard Horan & Erwin Bulte & Jason Shogren, 2008. "Coevolution of human speech and trade," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 293-313, December.
    7. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2007. "Made for Toil: Natural selection at the dawn of agriculture," PSE Working Papers halshs-00587788, HAL.
    8. Arthur J. Robson, 2007. "A 'Bioeconomic' View of the Neolithic and Recent Demographic Transitions," Discussion Papers dp07-02, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    9. Guzmán, Ricardo Andrés & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2011. "The Neolithic Revolution from a price-theoretic perspective," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 209-219, November.
    10. Chu, Angus, 2022. "Natural Selection and Neanderthal Extinction in a Malthusian Economy," MPRA Paper 112547, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Matthew Baker, 2008. "A structural model of the transition to agriculture," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 257-292, December.
    12. Gregory K. Dow & Nancy Olewiler & Clyde G. Reed, 2005. "The Transition to Agriculture: Climate Reversals, Population Density, and Technical Change," Economic History 0509003, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Chu, Angus C., 2022. "From Neolithic Revolution to Industrialization," MPRA Paper 111835, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2003-2041, August.
    15. Serge Svizzero, 2014. "Pre-Neolithic Economy," Post-Print hal-02152612, HAL.
    16. Ashraf, Quamrul & Galor, Oded, 2008. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 7057, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. 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.
    18. Horan, Richard D. & Shogren, Jason F. & Bulte, Erwin H., 2008. "Competitive Exclusion, Diversification, and the Origins of Agriculture," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6410, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    19. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2005. "From Foraging To Farming: Explaining The Neolithic Revolution," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(4), pages 561-586, September.
    20. James A. Brander, 2007. "Viewpoint: Sustainability: Malthus revisited?," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 40(1), pages 1-38, February.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:43:y:2010:i:1:p:280-300. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ceaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Prof. Werner Antweiler (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ceaaaea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.