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Technological Progress and Regress in Pre-Industrial Times

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  • Aiyar, Shekhar
  • Dalgaard, Carl-Johan
  • Moav, Omer

Abstract

This paper offers micro-foundations for the dynamic relationship between technology and population in the pre-industrial world, accounting for both technological progress and the hitherto neglected but common phenomenon of technological regress. A growing population engenders the endogenous adoption of new techniques that increase the division of labour. Conversely, technological progress supports an increasing population in the Malthusian environment. A transient shock to population or productivity, however, induces the neglect of some techniques rendered temporarily unprofitable, which are therefore not transmitted to the next generation. When the shock passes, the division of labour remains constrained by the smaller stock of knowledge, and technology has thereby regressed. A slow process of rediscovery is required for the economy to reach its previous level of technological sophistication and population size.

Suggested Citation

  • Aiyar, Shekhar & Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Moav, Omer, 2006. "Technological Progress and Regress in Pre-Industrial Times," CEPR Discussion Papers 5454, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5454
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    Cited by:

    1. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2017. "Physiological Constraints and Comparative Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 6794, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Matteo Cervellati & Uwe Sunde, 2015. "The Economic and Demographic Transition, Mortality, and Comparative Development," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 189-225, July.
    3. Lagerlöf, Nils-Petter, 2014. "Population, technology and fragmentation: The European miracle revisited," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 87-105.
    4. 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.
    5. Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Human Capital, Mortality and Fertility: A Unified Theory of the Economic and Demographic Transition," IZA Discussion Papers 2905, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. 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.
    7. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2014. "Physiological Constraints and Comparative Economic Development," Discussion Papers 14-21, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    8. Ko, Chiu Yu & Koyama, Mark & Sng, Tuan-Hwee, 2014. "Unified China; Divided Europe," MPRA Paper 60418, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Thomas Barnebeck Andersen & Jeanet Bentzen & Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Paul Sharp, 2010. "Religious Orders and Growth through Cultural Change in Pre-Industrial England," DEGIT Conference Papers c015_036, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    10. 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.
    11. Mayshar, Joram & Moav, Omer & Neeman, Zvika, 2011. "Transparency, Appropriability and the Early State," CEPR Discussion Papers 8548, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Iacopetta, Maurizio, 2011. "Formal education and public knowledge," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 676-693, May.
    13. Martin L. Weitzman, 1998. "Recombinant Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 331-360.
    14. W. Erwin Diewert & Kevin J. Fox, 2017. "Decomposing Value Added Growth into Explanatory Factors," Discussion Papers 2017-02, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    15. Sara LaLumia & James Sallee, 2013. "The value of honesty: empirical estimates from the case of the missing children," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 20(2), pages 192-224, April.
    16. Michael Bar & Oksana Leukhina, 2010. "The role of mortality in the transmission of knowledge," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 291-321, December.
    17. Dao, Nguyen Thang & Dávila, Julio, 2013. "Can geography lock a society in stagnation?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 442-446.
    18. Mauro Rota & Luca Spinesi, 2013. "At the Onset of the original capital accumulation," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0179, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
    19. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2007. "A Bioeconomic Foundation of the Malthusian Equilibrium: Body Size and Population Size in the Long-Run," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-373, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
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    24. Diewert, W. Erwin & Fox, Kevin J., 2016. "A Decomposition of U.S. Business Sector TFP Growth into Technical Progress and Cost Efficiency Components," Microeconomics.ca working papers erwin_diewert-2016-8, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 30 Jun 2016.
    25. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    division of labour; Malthusian stagnation; technological progress; technological regress;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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