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The physiological foundations of the wealth of nations

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  • Carl-Johan Dalgaard
  • Holger Strulik

Abstract

In the present paper we advance a theory of pre-industrial growth where body size and population size are endogenously determined. Despite the fact that parents invest in both child quantity and productivity enhancing child quality, a take-off does not occur due to a key “physiological check”: if human body size rises, subsistence requirements will increase. This mechanism turns out to be instrumental in explaining why income stagnates near an endogenously determined subsistence boundary. Key predictions of the model are examined using data for ethnic groups as well as for sub-national regions. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

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  • Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2015. "The physiological foundations of the wealth of nations," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 37-73, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:20:y:2015:i:1:p:37-73
    DOI: 10.1007/s10887-015-9112-5
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Malthusian stagnation; Subsistence; Nutrition; Body size; Population growth; O11; I12; J13;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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