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Malthus in Cointegration Space: A new look at living standards and population in pre-industrial England

  • Niels Framroze Møller

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Paul Sharp

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

We analyze Malthus' (1798) model when labor demand shifts persistently. The Malthusian ideas are formalized and derived in terms of stationarity and cointegration, and the implied restrictions are tested against English pre-industrial data 1560-1760. The evidence suggests a negligible marginal productivity effect of population on real income, implying that the Malthusian "check" relations should be analyzed as cointegrating relations. The data support highly significant preventive checks working via marriages, but weak (in-significant) positive checks. These results are remarkably clear-cut. We suggest a simple interpretation for the lack of response of real income to population, which is consistent with positive feed back effects from population on technology, à la Boserupian- and/or Smithian mechanisms. Recursive estimation confirms stable parameters and identify the end of our modified Malthusian regime.

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Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 08-16.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0816
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  1. Galor, Oded, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 4581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Paul Sharp & Jacob Weisdorf, 2007. "From Preventative to Permissive Checks: The Changing Nature of the Malthusian Relationship between Nuptiality and the Price of Provisions in the Nineteenth Century," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _067, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  3. Malthus, Thomas Robert, 1798. "An Essay on the Principle of Population," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number malthus1798.
  4. Ronald Lee, 1987. "Population dynamics of humans and other animals," Demography, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 443-465, November.
  5. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World
    [A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  6. Johansen, S., 1991. "Testing Weak Exogeneity and the Order of Cointegration in UK Money Demand Data," Papers 78, Helsinki - Department of Economics.
  7. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1209-2004," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1307-1340, December.
  8. Nicolini, Esteban A., 2007. "Was Malthus right? A VAR analysis of economic and demographic interactions in pre-industrial England," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 99-121, April.
  9. Shekhar Aiyar & Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Omer Moav, 2008. "Technological progress and regress in pre-industrial times," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 125-144, June.
  10. Michael Anderson & Ronald Lee, 2002. "Malthus in state space: Macro economic-demographic relations in English history, 1540 to 1870," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 195-220.
  11. Lee, Ronald, 1973. "Population in Preindustrial England: An Econometric Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 581-607, November.
  12. David Collard, 2001. "Malthus, Population, and the Generational Bargain," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 33(4), pages 697-716, Winter.
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