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The Rise of Neolithic Agriculture

  • Olsson, Ola

    ()

    (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)

The article analyzes the economic reasons behind the rise of Neolithic agriculture some 10,000 years ago in consideration of evidence that agriculture was not associated with increasing standards of living. On the basis of archeological and anthropological literature, the article presents a modelling framework that allows for four broad explanations to the agricultural transition; (i) environmental conditions, (ii) population pressure,(iii) cultural influence, and (iv) external factors. It is shown that the introduction of agriculture first increases welfare but then leads to a steady decline. The reason for this deterioration is the switch from a pure Malthusian population growth regime to a partly exogenous regime where population grows without constraints and drive hunter-gatherers into agriculture in a Boserupian manner. When the model is confronted with archeological evidence from the Jordan Valley, it appears that envi-ronmental change, population growth, and a uniquely favourable biogeography for domestication led to the introduction of agriculture.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/2861
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Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 57.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 27 Sep 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0057
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
Web page: http://www.handels.gu.se/econ/

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  1. Jones Charles I., 2001. "Was an Industrial Revolution Inevitable? Economic Growth Over the Very Long Run," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(2), pages 1-45, August.
  2. Marvin Goodfriend & John McDermott, 1994. "Early development," Working Paper 94-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  3. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Malthus to Solow," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1205-1217, September.
  4. Oded Galor & David N. Weil, 1998. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From the Malthusian Regime to the Demographic Transition," Working Papers 98-1, Brown University, Department of Economics, revised 19 Aug 1998.
  5. Olsson, Ola & Hibbs, Douglas Jr., 2005. "Biogeography and long-run economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 909-938, May.
  6. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2001. "Evolution and growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 718-729, May.
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