IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/eecrev/v118y2019icp51-68.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Malthus was right: Explaining a millennium of stagnation

Author

Listed:
  • Madsen, Jakob B.
  • Robertson, Peter E.
  • Ye, Longfeng

Abstract

We develop a simple Malthusian growth model with continuous productivity growth and derive the stationary steady-state equilibrium. We show that linearisation around the steady-state gives an empirically tractable model of Malthusian wage and population behaviour using the familiar concept of β-convergence. Our empirical strategy addresses the concern in the literature over model identification and inconsistent parameter estimates. Based on newly constructed population data, we estimate wage and population growth models using panel data for up to 17 countries from 900CE to 1870CE. Our results provide the first time-series evidence of a strong Malthusian trap that was pervasive across countries and time before the 19th century industrial revolution.

Suggested Citation

  • Madsen, Jakob B. & Robertson, Peter E. & Ye, Longfeng, 2019. "Malthus was right: Explaining a millennium of stagnation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 51-68.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:118:y:2019:i:c:p:51-68
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2019.05.004
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014292119300819
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.euroecorev.2019.05.004?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. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1209-2004," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1307-1340, December.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Robert C. Allen, 2008. "A Review of Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 946-973, December.
    5. Oded Galor, 2012. "The demographic transition: causes and consequences," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 6(1), pages 1-28, January.
    6. Broadberry,Stephen & Campbell,Bruce M. S. & Klein,Alexander & Overton,Mark & van Leeuwen,Bas, 2015. "British Economic Growth, 1270–1870," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107070783.
    7. Persson, Karl Gunnar, 2008. "The Malthus delusion," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 165-173, August.
    8. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1209-2004," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1307-1340, December.
    9. Guido Tabellini, 2010. "Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 677-716, June.
    10. Broadberry, Stephen, 2013. "Accounting for the great divergence," Economic History Working Papers 54573, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    11. Chiarini, Bruno, 2010. "Was Malthus right? The relationship between population and real wages in Italian history, 1320 to 1870," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 460-475, October.
    12. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293, Elsevier.
    13. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A., 2005. "Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 385-472, Elsevier.
    14. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Malthus to Solow," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1205-1217, September.
    15. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-437.
    16. à Lvarez-Nogal, Carlos & Prados De La Escosura, Leandro, 2007. "The decline of Spain (1500–1850): conjectural estimates," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 319-366, December.
    17. Weir, David R., 1984. "Life Under Pressure: France and England, 1670–1870," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(1), pages 27-47, March.
    18. Marc Klemp & Niels Framroze Møller, 2016. "Post-Malthusian Dynamics in Pre-Industrial Scandinavia," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 118(4), pages 841-867, October.
    19. Timothy W. Guinnane, 2011. "The Historical Fertility Transition: A Guide for Economists," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 589-614, September.
    20. Kogel, Tomas & Prskawetz, Alexia, 2001. "Agricultural Productivity Growth and Escape from the Malthusian Trap," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 337-357, December.
    21. Oded Galor, 2011. "Unified Growth Theory and Comparative Development," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 2, pages 9-21, April-Jun.
    22. Ronald Lee, 2003. "The Demographic Transition: Three Centuries of Fundamental Change," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 167-190, Fall.
    23. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
    24. Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), 2005. "Handbook of Economic Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1.
    25. Dietrich Vollrath, 2011. "The agricultural basis of comparative development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 343-370, December.
    26. Malthus, Thomas Robert, 1798. "An Essay on the Principle of Population," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number malthus1798.
    27. Michael Anderson & Ronald Lee, 2002. "Malthus in state space: Macro economic-demographic relations in English history, 1540 to 1870," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(2), pages 195-220.
    28. Edvinsson, Rodney, 2015. "Pre-industrial population and economic growth: Was there a Malthusian mechanism in Sweden?," Stockholm Papers in Economic History 17, Stockholm University, Department of Economic History.
    29. Jakob Madsen & James Ang & Rajabrata Banerjee, 2010. "Four centuries of British economic growth: the roles of technology and population," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 263-290, December.
    30. David Greasley & Jakob B. Madsen & Mark E. Wohar, 2013. "Long-run growth empirics and new challenges for unified theory," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(28), pages 3973-3987, October.
    31. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C., 2009. "From Malthus to Solow: How did the Malthusian economy really evolve?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 68-93, March.
    32. Nicolini, Esteban A., 2007. "Was Malthus right? A VAR analysis of economic and demographic interactions in pre-industrial England," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 99-121, April.
    33. R. E. Bailey & M. J. Chambers, 1993. "Long‐Term Demographic Interactions in Precensus England," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 156(3), pages 339-362, May.
    34. Miikka Voutilainen, 2015. "Malthusian checks in pre-industrial Sweden and Finland: a comparative analysis of the demographic regimes," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(3), pages 235-259, November.
    35. Eric Chaney & Richard Hornbeck, 2016. "Economic Dynamics in the Malthusian Era: Evidence from the 1609 Spanish Expulsion of the Moriscos," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(594), pages 1404-1440, August.
    36. Jonathan R. W. Temple, 1998. "Robustness tests of the augmented Solow model," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(4), pages 361-375.
    37. Oded Galor, 2011. "Unified Growth Theory," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9477.
    38. Kelly, Morgan & Ó Gráda, Cormac, 2012. "The Preventive Check in Medieval and Preindustrial England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(4), pages 1015-1035, December.
    39. Strulik, Holger & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2014. "How Child Costs And Survival Shaped The Industrial Revolution And The Demographic Transition," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 114-144, January.
    40. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
    41. Ronald Lee, 1980. "A Historical Perspective on Economic Aspects of the Population Explosion: The Case of Preindustrial England," NBER Chapters, in: Population and Economic Change in Developing Countries, pages 517-566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    42. Niels Møller & Paul Sharp, 2014. "Malthus in cointegration space: evidence of a post-Malthusian pre-industrial England," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 105-140, March.
    43. 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.
    44. Peter Egger, 2001. "SUR Estimation of Error Components Models With AR(1) Disturbances and Unobserved Endogenous Effects," WIFO Working Papers 171, WIFO.
    45. Ronald Lee, 1973. "Population in Preindustrial England: An Econometric Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(4), pages 581-607.
    46. Holger Strulik & Jacob Weisdorf, 2008. "Population, food, and knowledge: a simple unified growth theory," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 195-216, September.
    47. Baumol, William J, 1983. "Marx and the Iron Law of Wages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(2), pages 303-308, May.
    48. Ronald LEE, 2015. "Becker and the Demographic Transition," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 67-74, March.
    49. Tommy E. Murphy, 2010. "Persistence of Malthus or Persistence in Malthus? Mortality, Income, and Marriage in the French Fertility Decline of the Long Nineteenth Century?," Working Papers 363, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Miikka Voutilainen & Jouni Helske & Harri Högmander, 0. "A Bayesian Reconstruction of a Historical Population in Finland, 1647–1850," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 0, pages 1-22.
    2. Miikka Voutilainen & Jouni Helske & Harri Högmander, 2020. "A Bayesian Reconstruction of a Historical Population in Finland, 1647–1850," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(3), pages 1171-1192, June.
    3. Kumon, Yuzuru, 2022. "How Landownership Equality Created a Low Wage Society: Pre-industrial Japan, 1600-1870," IAST Working Papers 22-138, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    4. Rodriguez-Gonzalez, Pablo T. & Rico-Martinez, Ramiro & Rico-Ramirez, Vicente, 2020. "Effect of feedback loops on the sustainability and resilience of human-ecosystems," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 426(C).
    5. Johnston, Lauren A., 2020. "China’s Economic Demography Transition Strategy: A Population Weighted Approach to the Economy and Policy," GLO Discussion Paper Series 593, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    6. Krzysztof Piotr Pawłowski & Wawrzyniec Czubak & Jagoda Zmyślona & Arkadiusz Sadowski, 2021. "Overinvestment in selected Central and Eastern European countries: Production and economic effects," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 16(5), pages 1-23, May.
    7. 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.
    8. Cellarier, Laurent L., 2021. "Is landownership a ladder out of poverty?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).

    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. James Foreman-Peck & Peng Zhou, 2021. "Fertility versus productivity: a model of growth with evolutionary equilibria," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(3), pages 1073-1104, July.
    2. Ho, Chi Pui, 2016. "Industrious Selection: Explaining Five Revolutions and Two Divergences in Eurasian Economic History within a Unified Growth Framework," MPRA Paper 73862, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Voigtländer, Nico & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2009. "The Three Horsemen of Growth: Plague, War and Urbanization in Early Modern Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 7275, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Hans-Joachim Voth, 2013. "The Three Horsemen of Riches: Plague, War, and Urbanization in Early Modern Europe," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(2), pages 774-811.
    5. 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.
    6. Peter Sandholt Jensen & Maja Uhre Pedersen & Cristina Victoria Radu & Paul Richard Sharp, 2020. "Arresting the Sword of Damocles: Dating the Transition to the Post-Malthusian Era in Denmark," Working Papers 0182, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    7. Marc Klemp & Niels Framroze Møller, 2016. "Post-Malthusian Dynamics in Pre-Industrial Scandinavia," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 118(4), pages 841-867, October.
    8. Foreman-Peck, James & Zhou, Peng, 2019. "The Demographic Transition in a Unified Growth Modelof the English Economy," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2019/8, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.
    9. Ulrich Pfister & Georg Fertig, 2020. "From Malthusian Disequilibrium to the Post-Malthusian Era: The Evolution of the Preventive and Positive Checks in Germany, 1730–1870," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(3), pages 1145-1170, June.
    10. Maja Pedersen & Claudia Riani & Paul Sharp, 2021. "Malthus in preindustrial Northern Italy?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(3), pages 1003-1026, July.
    11. Francesco Cinnirella & Marc P. B. Klemp & Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2012. "Malthus in the Bedroom: Birth Spacing as a Preventive Check Mechanism in Pre-Modern England," CESifo Working Paper Series 3936, CESifo.
    12. Dierk Herzer & Holger Strulik & Sebastian Vollmer, 2012. "The long-run determinants of fertility: one century of demographic change 1900–1999," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 357-385, December.
    13. Lehmann-Hasemeyer, Sibylle H. & Prettner, Klaus & Tscheuschner, Paul, 2020. "The scientific revolution and its role in the transition to sustained economic growth," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 06-2020, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
    14. Bruno Chiarini & Elisabetta Marzano, 2014. "Urbanization and Growth: Why Did the Splendor of the Italian Cities in the Sixteenth Century not Lead to Transition?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5038, CESifo.
    15. 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.
    16. Rohan Dutta & David K. Levine & Nicholas W. Papageorge & Lemin Wu, 2018. "Entertaining Malthus: Bread, Circuses, And Economic Growth," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 56(1), pages 358-380, January.
    17. Chiarini, Bruno, 2010. "Was Malthus right? The relationship between population and real wages in Italian history, 1320 to 1870," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 460-475, October.
    18. Fochesato, Mattia, 2018. "Origins of Europe’s north-south divide: Population changes, real wages and the ‘little divergence’ in early modern Europe," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 91-131.
    19. Nguyen Thang Dao & Julio Dávila & Angela Greulich, 2021. "The education gender gap and the demographic transition in developing countries," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(2), pages 431-474, April.
    20. Broadberry, Stephen & Ghosal, Sayantan & Proto, Eugenio, 2017. "Anonymity, efficiency wages and technological progress," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 379-394.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic growth; Economic development; Convergence; Technological progress; Malthusian trap;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General

    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:eee:eecrev:v:118:y:2019:i:c:p:51-68. 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: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer .

    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: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer .

    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.