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The Rise of Neolithic Agriculture

Author

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  • Olsson, Ola

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Olsson, Ola, 2001. "The Rise of Neolithic Agriculture," Working Papers in Economics 57, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0057
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/2861
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. Olsson, Ola & Hibbs, Douglas Jr., 2005. "Biogeography and long-run economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 909-938, May.
    3. Oded Galor & David N. Weil, 1998. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition," Working Papers 98-3, Brown University, Department of Economics, revised 19 Aug 1998.
    4. Goodfriend, Marvin & McDermott, John, 1995. "Early Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 116-133, March.
    5. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Malthus to Solow," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1205-1217, September.
    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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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ashraf, Quamrul & Michalopoulos, Stelios, 2010. "The Climatic Origins of the Neolithic Revolution: Theory and Evidence," MPRA Paper 23137, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Quamrul Ashraf & Stelios Michalopoulos, 2015. "Climatic Fluctuations and the Diffusion of Agriculture," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(3), pages 589-609, July.
    3. Matthew J. Baker, 2005. "Technological Progress, Population Growth, Property Rights, and the Transition to Agriculture," Departmental Working Papers 9, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
    4. Olsson, Ola & Hibbs, Douglas Jr., 2005. "Biogeography and long-run economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 909-938, May.
    5. Gregory Dow & Clyde Reed & Nancy Olewiler, 2009. "Climate reversals and the transition to agriculture," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 27-53, March.
    6. Gregory K. Dow & Nancy Olewiler & Clyde Reed, 2005. "The Transition to Agriculture: Climate Reversals, Population Density, and Technical Change," Discussion Papers dp05-01, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    7. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2005. "From Foraging To Farming: Explaining The Neolithic Revolution," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(4), pages 561-586, September.
    8. Matthew Baker, 2008. "A structural model of the transition to agriculture," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 257-292, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    agricultur; hunting-gathering; environment; technology; population; transition.;

    JEL classification:

    • N55 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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