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Property Rights, Warfare and the Neolithic Transition

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  • Rowthorn, Robert
  • Seabright, Paul

Abstract

This paper explains the multiple adoption of agriculture around ten thousand years ago, in spite of the fact that the first farmers suffered worse health and nutrition than their hunter gatherer predecessors. If output is harder for farmers to defend, adoption may entail increased defense investments, and equilibrium consumption levels may decline as agricultural productivity increases over a significant range, before eventually increasing thereafter. Agricultural adoption may have been a prisoners’ dilemma in that adoption was individually attractive even though all groups would have been better off committing not to adopt while the initial productivity advantage of agriculture remained low.

Suggested Citation

  • Rowthorn, Robert & Seabright, Paul, 2010. "Property Rights, Warfare and the Neolithic Transition," IDEI Working Papers 654, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  • Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:23850
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Matthew Baker & Erwin Bulte & Jacob Weisdorf, 2006. "The Origins of Governments: From Amorphy to Anarchy and Hierarchy," Discussion Papers 06-25, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    3. Francisco M. Gonzalez, 2005. "Insecure Property and Technological Backwardness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(505), pages 703-721, July.
    4. 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.
    5. Toke Skovsgaard Aidt, 2002. "Strategic Political Participation and Redistribution," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 19-40.
    6. Gonzalez, Francisco M. & Neary, Hugh M., 2008. "Prosperity without conflict," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2170-2181, October.
    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. Nitzan, Shmuel, 1994. "Modelling rent-seeking contests," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 41-60, May.
    9. Sung Ha Hwang, 2009. "Contest Success Functions: Theory and Evidence," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2009-04, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    10. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
    11. Jack Hirshleifer, 1989. "Conflict and rent-seeking success functions: Ratio vs. difference models of relative success," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 63(2), pages 101-112, November.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. A neolithic prisonner's dilemma
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-02-02 21:05:00

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    Cited by:

    1. David K. Levine & Salvatore Modica, 2012. "Conflict and the evolution of societies," Working Papers 2012-032, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    2. David K Levine & Salvatore Modica, 2013. "Conflict, Evolution, Hegemony, and the Power of the State," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000692, David K. Levine.
    3. 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.
    4. Lemin Wu & Rohan Dutta & David K Levine & Nicholas W Papageorge, 2014. "Entertaining Malthus: Bread, Circuses and Economic Growth," Levine's Bibliography 786969000000000853, UCLA Department of Economics.
    5. Matranga, Andrea, 2017. "The Ant and the Grasshopper: Seasonality and the Invention of Agriculture," MPRA Paper 76626, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. repec:eee:deveco:v:127:y:2017:i:c:p:297-305 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    agriculture; defense; property rights; contest functions; Neolithic transition;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General

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