Life-Work Balance During The Neolithic Revolution
Firms in modern western world are often said to encourage people to prioritize work over family life. This imbalance, some personnel psychologist claim, causes tension and unhappiness. The story, however, is not new. Something very similar happened during the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture, some 10,000 years ago. Working time increased alongside population. Meanwhile, consumption remained at the subsistence level. I show, using a neoclassical economic, that the technological improvements associated to agriculturization induce free, rational and self-interested hunter-gatherers to adopt agriculture. As a result, working time increases while consumption remains at the subsistence level, and population begins to grow until diminishing returns to labor bring it to a halt. Welfare, which depends on consumption, leisure, and fertility, rises at first; but after a few generations it falls below its initial level. Still, the adoption of agriculture is irreversible. The latter generations choose to remain farmers because, at their current levels of population, reverting to hunting and gathering would reduce their welfare.
Volume (Year): 10 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
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03-41, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
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