Many hands make hard work, or why agriculture is not a puzzle
The shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture, some 10,000 years ago, triggered the first demographic explosion in history. Along with population, working time increased, while food consumption remained at the subsistence level. For that reason, most anthropologists regard the adoption of agriculture as an economical puzzle. I show, using a neoclassical economic model, that there is nothing puzzling about the adoption of agriculture. Agriculture brings four technological changes: an increase in total factor productivity, a stabilization of total factor productivity, less interference of children on production, and the possibility of food storage. In my model, each of those changes induces free, rational and self-interested hunter-gatherers to adopt agriculture. As a result, working time increases while consumption remains at the subsistence level, and population begins to grow until diminishing returns to labor bring it to a halt. Welfare, which depends on consumption, leisure, and fertility, rises at first; but after a few generations it falls below its initial level. Still, the adoption of agriculture is irreversible. The latter generations choose to remain farmers because, at their current levels of population, reverting to hunting and gathering would reduce their welfare.
|Date of creation:||28 Jan 2007|
|Date of revision:||08 Aug 2007|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Eckstein, Zvi & Stern, Steven & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1988. "Fertility Choice, Land, and the Malthusian Hypothesis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(2), pages 353-61, May.
- Gary S. Becker, .
"Fertility and the Economy,"
University of Chicago - Population Research Center
92-3, Chicago - Population Research Center.
- Michele Boldrin & Larry E. Jones, 2002. "Mortality, Fertility, and Saving in a Malthusian Economy," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 775-814, October.
- Nicolas Marceau & Gordon Myers, 2006.
"On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(513), pages 751-772, 07.
- Nicolas Marceau & Gordon Myers, 2005. "On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture," Cahiers de recherche 0502, CIRPEE.
- Razin, Assaf & Ben-Zion, Uri, 1975. "An Intergenerational Model of Population Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(5), pages 923-33, December.
- Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999.
"Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches,"
Handbook of Labor Economics,
in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:4148. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekkehart Schlicht)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.