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On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture

  • Nicolas Marceau
  • Gordon Myers

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.

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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 116 (2006)
Issue (Month): 513 (07)
Pages: 751-772

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:116:y:2006:i:513:p:751-772
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  1. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1995. "Anarchy and Its Breakdown," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 26-52, February.
  2. Hart, Sergiu & Kurz, Mordecai, 1983. "Endogenous Formation of Coalitions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 1047-64, July.
  3. Nicolas Marceau & Gordon M. Myers, 2000. "From Foraging to Agriculture," Discussion Papers dp00-07, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, revised Feb 2000.
  4. 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.
  5. Ray, D. & Vohra, R., 1996. "A Theory of Endogenous Coalition Structure," Papers 68, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
  6. 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 940-56, December.
  7. H. Lorne Carmichael & W. Bentley MacLeod, 1997. "Gift Giving and the Evolution of Cooperation," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 338., Boston College Department of Economics.
  8. 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 119-38, March.
  9. Locay, Luis, 1989. "From Hunting and Gathering to Agriculture," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(4), pages 737-56, July.
  10. Ray, Debraj & Vohra, Rajiv, 1997. "Equilibrium Binding Agreements," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 30-78, March.
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