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Malthus Was Right: Explaining a Millennium of Stagnation

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  • Jacob B. Madsen

    (Business School, University of Western Australia)

  • Peter E. Robertson

    (Business School, University of Western Australia)

  • Longfeng Ye

    (RMIT University)

Abstract

We develop a simple Malthusian growth model with continuous productivity growth and derive the stationary steady-state equilibrium. We show that linearisation around the steady-state gives an empirically tractable model of Malthusian wage and population behaviour using the familiar concept of β-convergence. Our empirical strategy addresses the concern in the literature over model identification and inconsistent parameter estimates. Based on newly constructed population data, we estimate wage and population growth models using panel data for up to 17 countries from 900CE to 1870CE. Our results provide the first time-series evidence of a strong Malthusian trap that was pervasive across countries and time before the 19th century industrial revolution.
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Suggested Citation

  • Jacob B. Madsen & Peter E. Robertson & Longfeng Ye, 2019. "Malthus Was Right: Explaining a Millennium of Stagnation," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 19-16, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwa:wpaper:19-16
    Note: MD5 = 9ba859e4d5d09ffced088088ce825687
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    2. Miikka Voutilainen & Jouni Helske & Harri Högmander, 2020. "A Bayesian Reconstruction of a Historical Population in Finland, 1647–1850," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(3), pages 1171-1192, June.
    3. Johnston, Lauren A., 2020. "China’s Economic Demography Transition Strategy: A Population Weighted Approach to the Economy and Policy," GLO Discussion Paper Series 593, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    4. Rodriguez-Gonzalez, Pablo T. & Rico-Martinez, Ramiro & Rico-Ramirez, Vicente, 2020. "Effect of feedback loops on the sustainability and resilience of human-ecosystems," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 426(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic Growth; Economic Development; Convergence; Technological Progress; Malthusian Trap;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General

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