The Transition to Agriculture: Climate Reversals, Population Density, and Technical Change
Until about 13,000 years ago all humans obtained their food through hunting and gathering, but thereafter people in some parts of the world began a transition to agriculture. Recent data strongly implicate climate change as the driving force behind the transition in southwest Asia. We propose a model of this process in which population and technology respond endogenously to climate. After a period of favorable environmental conditions during which regional population grew, an abrupt climate reversal forced people to take refuge at a few favored sites. The resulting spike in local population density reduced the marginal product of labor in foraging and made agriculture attractive. Once agriculture was initiated, rapid technological progress through artificial selection led to domesticated plants. Farming became a permanent part of the regional economy when this productivity growth was combined with climate recovery. The available data on cases of transition and non-transition are consistent with this model but are often inconsistent with rival explanations.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2005|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.sfu.ca/economics.html
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:|| Postal: Working Paper Coordinator, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada|
Web: http://www.sfu.ca/economics/research/publications.html Email:
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.:
- Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2003.
"From Foraging to Farming: Explaining the Neolithic Revolution,"
03-41, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
- 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.
- Nicolas Marceau & Gordon Myers, 2005.
"On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture,"
Cahiers de recherche
- Nicolas Marceau & Gordon Myers, 2006. "On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(513), pages 751-772, 07.
- Olsson, Ola, 2001. "The Rise of Neolithic Agriculture," Working Papers in Economics 57, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
- Locay, Luis, 1989. "From Hunting and Gathering to Agriculture," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(4), pages 737-56, July.
- Locay, Luis, 1997. "Population equilibrium in primitive societies," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 747-767.
- 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 119-38, March.
- 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.
- Douglass C. North & Robert Paul Thomas, 1977. "The First Economic Revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 30(2), pages 229-241, 05.
- 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.
- Matthew J. Baker, 2003. "An Equilibrium Conflict Model of Land Tenure in Hunter-Gatherer Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(1), pages 124-173, February.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sfu:sfudps:dp05-01. 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: (Working Paper Coordinator)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.