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Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch

This paper examines the central hypothesis of the influential Malthusian theory, according to which improvements in the technological environment during the pre-industrial era had generated only temporary gains in income per capita, eventually leading to a larger, but not significantly richer, population. Exploiting exogenous sources of cross-country variations in land productivity and the level of technological advancement, the analysis demonstrates that, in accordance with the theory, technological superiority and higher land productivity had significant positive effects on population density but insignificant effects on the standard of living, during the time period 1-1500 CE.

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File URL: http://web.williams.edu/Economics/wp/AshrafGalor-Malthus.pdf
File Function: Full text revised version, July 2010
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Williams College in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2010-01.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision: Jul 2010
Publication status: Published in American Economic Review, August 2011, 101(5), pp. 2003-2041.
Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2010-01
Contact details of provider: Postal: Williamstown, MA 01267
Phone: 413 597 2476
Fax: 413 597 4045
Web page: http://econ.williams.eduEmail:


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  1. Diego Comin & William Easterly & Erick Gong, 2010. "Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 BC?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 65-97, July.
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  10. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2010. "The "Out of Africa" Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," Center for Development Economics 2010-03, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Jun 2011.
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  15. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2009. "The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 110, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
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  20. Nils-Petter Lagerlöf, 2006. "The Galor-Weil Model Revisited: A Quantitative Exercise," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(1), pages 116-142, January.
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  23. Shekhar Aiyar & Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Omer Moav, 2008. "Technological progress and regress in pre-industrial times," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 125-144, June.
  24. Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2006. "Why England? Demographic factors, structural change and physical capital accumulation during the Industrial Revolution," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_003, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  25. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2008. "The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity: Theory and Evidence," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0725, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  26. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2010. "The Physiological Foundations of the Wealth of Nations," Discussion Papers 10-05, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  27. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  28. Joachim Voth & Nico Voigtländer, 2009. "Malthusian dynamism and the rise of Europe: Make war, not love," Economics Working Papers 1185, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  29. 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.
  30. Oded Galor, 2006. "The Demographic Transition," Working Papers 2006-24, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  31. Oded Galor, 2010. "The 2008 Lawrence R. Klein Lecture-Comparative Economic Development: Insights From Unified Growth Theory," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(1), pages 1-44, 02.
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