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From Foraging to Agriculture

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Abstract

We consider a world in which the mode of food production, foraging or agriculture, is endogenous, and in which technology grows exogenously. Using a recent model of coalition formation, we allow individuals to rationally form cooperative communities (bands) of foragers or farmers. At the lowest levels of technology, equilibrium entails the grand coalition of foragers, a cooperative structure which avoids over-exploitation of the environment. But at a critical state of technology, the cooperative structure breaks down through an individually rational splintering of the band. At this stage there can be an increase in work and, through the over-exploitation of the environment, a food crisis. In the end, technological growth leads to a one-way transition from foraging to agriculture.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas Marceau & Gordon M. Myers, 2000. "From Foraging to Agriculture," Discussion Papers dp00-07, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, revised Feb 2000.
  • Handle: RePEc:sfu:sfudps:dp00-07
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 727-755, August.
    2. Brander, James A & Taylor, M Scott, 1998. "The Simple Economics of Easter Island: A Ricardo-Malthus Model of Renewable Resource Use," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 119-138, March.
    3. Burbidge, John B. & James A. DePater & Gordon M. Meyers & Abhijit Sengupta, 1997. "A Coalition-Formation Approach to Equilibrium Federations and Trading Blocs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 940-956, December.
    4. Carmichael, H Lorne & MacLeod, W Bentley, 1997. "Gift Giving and the Evolution of Cooperation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(3), pages 485-509, August.
    5. Ray, Debraj & Vohra, Rajiv, 1997. "Equilibrium Binding Agreements," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 30-78, March.
    6. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
    7. Hart, Sergiu & Kurz, Mordecai, 1983. "Endogenous Formation of Coalitions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 1047-1064, July.
    8. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Peleg, Bezalel & Whinston, Michael D., 1987. "Coalition-Proof Nash Equilibria I. Concepts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-12, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Abdala Mansour & Nicolas Marceau & Steeve Mongrain, 2006. "Gangs and Crime Deterrence," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 315-339, October.
    2. Nils-Petter Lagerlof, 2002. "The Roads To and From Serfdom," Macroeconomics 0212011, EconWPA.
    3. Muthoo, Abhinay, 2004. "A model of the origins of basic property rights," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 288-312, November.
    4. Nicolas Marceau & Gordon Myers, 2006. "On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(513), pages 751-772, July.
    5. Matthew J. Baker, 2005. "Technological Progress, Population Growth, Property Rights, and the Transition to Agriculture," Departmental Working Papers 9, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
    6. Arthur J. Robson, 2007. "A 'Bioeconomic' View of the Neolithic and Recent Demographic Transitions," Discussion Papers dp07-02, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation

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