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On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture

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  • Nicolas Marceau
  • Gordon Myers

Abstract

We consider a world in which the mode of food production, foraging or agriculture, is endogenous, and in which technology grows exogenously. Within a model of coalition formation, we allow individuals to form co-operative communities (bands) of foragers or farmers rationally. At the lowest levels of technology, equilibrium entails the grand coalition of foragers, a co-operative structure which avoids over-exploitation of the environment. But at a critical state of technology, the co-operative structure breaks down through an individually rational splintering of the band. At this stage, there can be an increase in work and through the over-exploitation of the environment, a food crisis. In the end, technological growth may lead to a one-way transition from foraging to agriculture. Copyright 2006 The Authors. Journal compilation Royal Economic Society 2006.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:116:y:2006:i:513:p:751-772
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 119-138, March.
    2. Burbidge, John B. & James A. DePater & Gordon M. Meyers & Abhijit Sengupta, 1997. "A Coalition-Formation Approach to Equilibrium Federations and Trading Blocs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 940-956, December.
    3. Carmichael, H Lorne & MacLeod, W Bentley, 1997. "Gift Giving and the Evolution of Cooperation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(3), pages 485-509, August.
    4. Ray, Debraj & Vohra, Rajiv, 1997. "Equilibrium Binding Agreements," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 30-78, March.
    5. Nicolas Marceau & Gordon M. Myers, 2000. "From Foraging to Agriculture," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 103, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
    6. Ray, Debraj & Vohra, Rajiv, 1999. "A Theory of Endogenous Coalition Structures," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 286-336, January.
    7. Hart, Sergiu & Kurz, Mordecai, 1983. "Endogenous Formation of Coalitions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 1047-1064, July.
    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. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1995. "Anarchy and Its Breakdown," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 26-52, February.
    10. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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).
    2. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2007. "Made for Toil: Natural selection at the dawn of agriculture," Working Papers halshs-00587788, HAL.
    3. Guzmán, Ricardo Andrés, 2007. "Many hands make hard work, or why agriculture is not a puzzle," MPRA Paper 4148, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 08 Aug 2007.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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).
    7. Matthew Baker, 2008. "A structural model of the transition to agriculture," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 257-292, December.
    8. 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(02), pages 157-172, August.
    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. Horan, Richard D. & Shogren, Jason F. & Bulte, Erwin H., 2011. "Joint determination of biological encephalization, economic specialization," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 426-439, May.
    11. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2007. "Made for Toil: Natural selection at the dawn of agriculture," PSE Working Papers halshs-00587788, HAL.
    12. Gregory K. Dow & Nancy Olewiler & Clyde Reed, 2005. "The Transition to Agriculture: Climate Reversals, Population Density, and Technical Change," Discussion Papers dp05-01, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    13. Lagerl F, Nils-Petter, 2007. "Long-Run Trends In Human Body Mass," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(03), pages 367-387, June.
    14. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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