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From Foraging to Farming: Explaining the Neolithic Revolution

  • Jacob L. Weisdorf

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

This paper reviews the main theories and evidence regarding the prehistoric shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture, an event which took place for the first time some 10,000 years ago. The transition, which is also known as the Neolithic Revolution, led to the rise of civilisation as we know it, and seems to have borne the seeds for the later process of industrialisation and for economic growth in general. The paper provides a brief historical survey of the leading hypotheses concerning the rise of agriculture proposed in the archaeological and anthropological literature. It then turns to a more detailed review of the theories proposed in the economic literature.

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Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 03-41.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0341
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  1. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 150-154, May.
  2. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2001. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2727, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Olsson, Ola & Hibbs Jr., Douglas A., 2000. "Biogeography and Long-Run Economic Development," Working Papers in Economics 26, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 11 Aug 2000.
  4. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2003. "Stone Age Economics: The Origins of Agriculture and the Emergence of Non-Food Specialists," Discussion Papers 03-34, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  5. Olsson, Ola, 2001. "The Rise of Neolithic Agriculture," Working Papers in Economics 57, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  6. Tomas Kögel & Alexia Prskawetz, 2000. "Agricultural productivity growth and escape from the Malthusian trap," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2000-002, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  7. Goodfriend, Marvin & McDermott, John, 1995. "Early Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 116-33, March.
  8. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  9. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716, August.
  10. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2004. "From stagnation to growth: Revisiting three historical regimes," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 455-472, 08.
  11. Tamura, Robert, 2002. "Human capital and the switch from agriculture to industry," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 207-242, December.
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