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Climatic Fluctuations and the Diffusion of Agriculture

  • Quamrul Ashraf
  • Stelios Michalopoulos

This research examines the climatic origins of the diffusion of Neolithic agriculture across countries and archaeological sites. The theory suggests that a foraging society s history of climatic shocks shaped the timing of its adoption of farming. Specifically, as long as climatic disturbances did not lead to a collapse of the underlying resource base, the rate at which hunter-gatherers were climatically propelled to experiment with their habitats determined the accumulation of tacit knowledge complementary to farming. Consistent with the proposed hypothesis, the empirical investigation demonstrates that, conditional on biogeographic endowments, climatic volatility has a hump-shaped effect on the timing of the adoption of agriculture.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18765.

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Date of creation: Feb 2013
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Publication status: published as 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18765
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  1. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2010. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," Department of Economics Working Papers 2010-01, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised May 2011.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Jacob Weisdorf, 2008. "Why did the First Farmers Toil? Human Metabolism and the Origins of Agriculture," Discussion Papers 08-15, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  5. Nicolas Marceau & Gordon Myers, 2005. "On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture," Cahiers de recherche 0502, CIRPEE.
  6. Diego A. Comin & William Easterly & Erick Gong, 2008. "Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 B.C.?," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-052, Harvard Business School.
  7. Guzmán, Ricardo Andrés & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2011. "The Neolithic Revolution from a price-theoretic perspective," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 209-219, November.
  8. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2001. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2727, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Oded Galor & Stelios Michalopoulos, 2011. "Evolution and the Growth Process: Natural Selection of Entrepreneurial Traits," Working Papers 2011-9, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  10. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2012. "The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1508-39, June.
  11. Rowthorn, Robert & Seabright, Paul, 2010. "Property Rights, Warfare and the Neolithic Transition," IDEI Working Papers 654, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  12. Ashraf, Quamrul & Michalopoulos, Stelios, 2010. "The Climatic Origins of the Neolithic Revolution: Theory and Evidence," MPRA Paper 23137, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2007. "The Neolithic Revolution and Contemporary Variations in Life Expectancy," Working Papers 2007-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  14. 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.
  15. Melissa Dell & Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2012. "Temperature Shocks and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 66-95, July.
  16. David M. Drukker & Ingmar Prucha & Rafal Raciborski, 2013. "Maximum likelihood and generalized spatial two-stage least-squares estimators for a spatial-autoregressive model with spatial-autoregressive disturbances," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 13(2), pages 221-241, June.
  17. Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Leonardo Bursztyn & David Hemous, 2009. "The Environment and Directed Technical Change," NBER Working Papers 15451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Smith, Vernon L, 1975. "The Primitive Hunter Culture, Pleistocene Extinction, and the Rise of Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 727-55, August.
  19. Olsson, Ola & Paik, Christopher, 2013. "A Western Reversal since the Neolithic? The long-run impact of early agriculture," Working Papers in Economics 552, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  20. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2005. "From Foraging To Farming: Explaining The Neolithic Revolution," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(4), pages 561-586, 09.
  21. Olsson, Ola, 2001. "The Rise of Neolithic Agriculture," Working Papers in Economics 57, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  22. Matthew Baker, 2008. "A structural model of the transition to agriculture," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 257-292, December.
  23. Peretto, Pietro F., 2012. "Resource abundance, growth and welfare: A Schumpeterian perspective," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 142-155.
  24. 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.
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