IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/kap/jecgro/v26y2021i3d10.1007_s10887-021-09193-y.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Physiological constraints and the transition to growth: implications for comparative development

Author

Listed:
  • Carl-Johan Dalgaard

    (University of Copenhagen)

  • Jakob B. Madsen

    (University of Western Australia)

  • Holger Strulik

    (University of Goettingen)

Abstract

It is a well known fact that economic development and distance to the equator are positively correlated variables in the world today. It is perhaps less well known that as recently as 1500 C.E. it was the other way around. The present paper provides a theory of why the ‘latitude gradient’ changed sign in the course of the last half millennium. In particular, we develop a dynamic model of economic and physiological development in which households decide upon the number and nutrition of their offspring. In this setting we demonstrate that relatively high metabolic costs of fertility, which may have emerged due to positive selection towards greater cold tolerance in locations away from the equator, would work to stifle economic development during pre-industrial times, yet allow for an early onset of sustained growth. As a result, the theory suggests a reversal of fortune whereby economic activity gradually shifts away from the equator in the process of long-term economic development. Our empirical results give supporting evidence for our hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:26:y:2021:i:3:d:10.1007_s10887-021-09193-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s10887-021-09193-y
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s10887-021-09193-y
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1007/s10887-021-09193-y?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 search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Matteo Cervellati & Uwe Sunde, 2005. "Human Capital Formation, Life Expectancy, and the Process of Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1653-1672, December.
    3. Francesco Caselli & Antonio Ciccone, 2019. "The Human Capital Stock: A Generalized Approach: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(3), pages 1155-1174, March.
    4. 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.
    5. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    6. Nathan Nunn & Diego Puga, 2012. "Ruggedness: The Blessing of Bad Geography in Africa," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 20-36, February.
    7. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2018. "Spatial Patterns of Development: A Meso Approach," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 10(1), pages 383-410, August.
    8. Anastasia Litina, 2016. "Natural land productivity, cooperation and comparative development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 351-408, December.
    9. Louis Putterman & David N. Weil, 2010. "Post-1500 Population Flows and The Long-Run Determinants of Economic Growth and Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1627-1682.
    10. 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.
    11. David de la Croix & Omar Licandro, 2013. "The Child is Father Of the Man: Implications for the Demographic Transition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(567), pages 236-261, March.
    12. Olsson, Ola & Paik, Christopher, 2020. "A Western Reversal Since the Neolithic? The Long-Run Impact of Early Agriculture," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 80(1), pages 100-135, March.
    13. Lagerlöf, Nils-Petter, 2007. "Long-Run Trends In Human Body Mass," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 367-387, June.
    14. Mikael Lindahl & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Education for Growth: Why and for Whom?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1101-1136, December.
    15. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," CID Working Papers 01A, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    16. Arthur J. Robson, 2010. "A bioeconomic view of the Neolithic transition to agriculture," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(1), pages 280-300, February.
    17. Oded Galor, 2011. "Unified Growth Theory," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9477.
    18. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Anne Sofie B. Knudsen & Pablo Selaya, 2020. "The bounty of the sea and long-run development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 259-295, September.
    19. Oded Galor & Viacheslav Savitskiy, 2018. "Climatic Roots of Loss Aversion," NBER Working Papers 25273, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Francesco Caselli & Antonio Ciccone, 2019. "The Human Capital Stock: A Generalized Approach Comment," CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series crctr224_2019_086, University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany.
    21. 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.
    22. Oded Galor & Ömer Özak, 2016. "The Agricultural Origins of Time Preference," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(10), pages 3064-3103, October.
    23. Robert E. Lucas, 2009. "Trade and the Diffusion of the Industrial Revolution," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 1-25, January.
    24. Epstein,Stephan R., 2003. "An Island for Itself," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521525077.
    25. 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.
    26. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2012. "The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1508-1539, June.
    27. Gallup, John & Sachs, Jeffrey, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) Papers 294434, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government.
    28. Shekhar Aiyar & Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Omer Moav, 2008. "Technological progress and regress in pre-industrial times," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 125-144, June.
    29. Carl‐Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2016. "Physiology and Development: Why the West is Taller Than the Rest," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(598), pages 2292-2323, December.
    30. 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.
    31. Gallup, J.L. & Sachs, J.D. & Mullinger, A., 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," Papers 1, Chicago - Graduate School of Business.
    32. 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.
    33. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
    34. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Gerard Roland, 2017. "Culture, Institutions, and the Wealth of Nations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 99(3), pages 402-416, July.
    35. Carl‐Johan Dalgaard & Casper Worm Hansen & Holger Strulik, 2021. "Fetal origins—A life cycle model of health and aging from conception to death," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(6), pages 1276-1290, June.
    36. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2014. "Optimal Aging And Death: Understanding The Preston Curve," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 672-701, June.
    37. Madsen, Jakob Brøchner & Strulik, Holger, 2020. "Testing unified growth theory: Technological progress and the child quantity-quality tradeoff," University of Göttingen Working Papers in Economics 393, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    38. Geoffrey B. West & James H. Brown & Brian J. Enquist, 2001. "A general model for ontogenetic growth," Nature, Nature, vol. 413(6856), pages 628-631, October.
    39. Melissa Dell & Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2012. "Temperature Shocks and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 66-95, July.
    40. Madsen, Jakob B., 2007. "Technology spillover through trade and TFP convergence: 135 years of evidence for the OECD countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 464-480, July.
    41. 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.
    42. Oded Galor, 2011. "Unified Growth Theory and Comparative Development," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 2, pages 9-21, April-Jun.
    43. Morgan Kelly & Joel Mokyr & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2015. "Roots of the Industrial Revolution," Working Papers 201524, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    44. Carl‐Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2016. "Physiology and Development: Why the West is Taller Than the Rest," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(598), pages 2292-2323, December.
    45. Quamrul H. Ashraf & Oded Galor & Marc Klemp, 2020. "The Ancient Origins of the Wealth of Nations," Working Papers 2020-22, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    46. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," CID Working Papers 1, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    47. 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.
    48. Gary S. Becker, 1960. "An Economic Analysis of Fertility," NBER Chapters, in: Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries, pages 209-240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    49. Gallup, John L. & Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Mellinger, Andrew, "undated". "Geography and Economic Development," Instructional Stata datasets for econometrics geodata, Boston College Department of Economics.
    50. Kelly, Morgan & Mokyr, Joel & Grada, Cormac O, 2015. "Roots of the Industrial Revolution," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 248, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    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. Luca Spinesi, 2022. "The Environmental Tax: Effects on Inequality and Growth," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 82(3), pages 529-572, July.

    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. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2014. "Physiological Constraints and Comparative Economic Development," Discussion Papers 14-21, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    2. Anastasia Litina, 2016. "Natural land productivity, cooperation and comparative development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 351-408, December.
    3. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2013. "The history augmented Solow model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 134-149.
    4. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Anne Sofie B. Knudsen & Pablo Selaya, 2020. "The bounty of the sea and long-run development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 259-295, September.
    5. Bloom, David E. & Canning, David & Kotschy, Rainer & Prettner, Klaus & Schünemann, Johannes, 2018. "Health and Economic Growth: Reconciling the Micro and Macro Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 11940, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2013. "The 'Out of Africa' Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 1-46, February.
    7. Mesbah Motamed & Raymond Florax & William Masters, 2014. "Agriculture, transportation and the timing of urbanization: Global analysis at the grid cell level," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 339-368, September.
    8. T. Ryan Johnson & Dietrich Vollrath, 2020. "The Role of Land in Temperate and Tropical Agriculture," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 87(348), pages 901-937, October.
    9. Litina, Anastasia, 2012. "Unfavorable land endowment, cooperation, and reversal of fortune," MPRA Paper 39702, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. 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.
    11. Justin Cook, C., 2014. "Potatoes, milk, and the Old World population boom," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 123-138.
    12. Diego Comin & William Easterly & Erick Gong, 2010. "Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 BC?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 65-97, July.
    13. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor & Ömer Özak, 2010. "Isolation and Development," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(2-3), pages 401-412, 04-05.
    14. P. Dorian Owen, 2017. "Evaluating Ingenious Instruments for Fundamental Determinants of Long-Run Economic Growth and Development," Econometrics, MDPI, vol. 5(3), pages 1-33, September.
    15. Matteo Cervellati & Uwe Sunde, 2011. "Life expectancy and economic growth: the role of the demographic transition," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 99-133, June.
    16. Guo, Rongxing & Yang, Kaizhong & Liu, Yuhui, 2020. "Explaining the human and cultural puzzles: A new development theory✰," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 155(C).
    17. Bennett, Daniel L. & Faria, Hugo J. & Gwartney, James D. & Morales, Daniel R., 2017. "Economic Institutions and Comparative Economic Development: A Post-Colonial Perspective," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 503-519.
    18. Matthew Delventhal, 2019. "The Globe as a Network: Geography and the Origins of the World Income Distribution," 2019 Meeting Papers 840, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    19. Ranoua Bouchouicha & Ferdinand M. Vieider, 2019. "Growth, entrepreneurship, and risk-tolerance: a risk-income paradox," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 257-282, September.
    20. C. Cook, 2014. "The role of lactase persistence in precolonial development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 369-406, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    LONg-run growth; Evolution; Nutrition; Fertility; Education; Comparative development;
    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

    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:kap:jecgro:v:26:y:2021:i:3:d:10.1007_s10887-021-09193-y. 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.springer.com .

    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: Sonal Shukla or Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.springer.com .

    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.