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A bioeconomic view of the transition to agriculture: a comment


  • Robert Rowthorn


Arthur Robson (2010) presents an ingenious model to explain why the standard of living apparently fell during the Neolithic transition from hunter-gathering to agriculture. His demonstration relies on a production function that has a strong property with regard to technical change. This note shows how Robson's result can be obtained using a more familiar set of restrictions on technical change. Under these restrictions, an improvement in technology will cause parents to invest less per child and the standard of living will fall.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Rowthorn, 2011. "A bioeconomic view of the transition to agriculture: a comment," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(3), pages 1044-1047, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:44:y:2011:i:3:p:1044-1047

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Markusen, 2005. "Modeling the Offshoring of White-Collar Services: From Comparative Advantage to the New Theories of Trade and FDI," NBER Working Papers 11827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Biscourp, Pierre & Kramarz, Francis, 2007. "Employment, skill structure and international trade: Firm-level evidence for France," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 22-51, May.
    3. Megan MacGarvie, 2006. "Do Firms Learn from International Trade?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 46-60, February.
    4. Ronald W. Jones, 2000. "A Framework for Fragmentation," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-056/2, Tinbergen Institute.
    5. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1992. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction, and Employment Reallocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 819-863.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General


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