IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Physiological Foundations of the Wealth of Nations

  • Dalgaard, Carl-Johan
  • Strulik, Holger

Evidence from economics, anthropology and biology testifies to a fundamental household trade-off between the number of offspring (quantity) and amount of nutrition per child (quality). This leads to a theory of pre-industrial growth where body size as well as population size is endogenous. But when productive quality investments are undertaken the historical constancy of income per capita seems puzzling. Why didn't episodes of rising income instigate a virtuous circle of rising body size and productivity? To address this question we propose that societies are subject to a \physiological check: if human body size rises, metabolic needs - our conceptualization of \subsistence requirements - rise. This mechanism turns out to be instrumental in explaining why income growth does not take hold and societies remain near an endogenously determined subsistence boundary. When we use the theory to shed light on pre-industrial cross-country income differences we find that 60-70% of the income differences in 1500 can plausibly be accounted for by variations in subsistence requirements.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/39963/1/252_strulik.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics in its series Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Hannover 2010 with number 3.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zbw:gdec10:3
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.ael.ethz.ch/

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as in new window
  1. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2010. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," Department of Economics Working Papers 2010-01, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised May 2011.
  2. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
  3. Oded Galor, 2005. "Discrete Dynamical Systems," GE, Growth, Math methods 0504001, EconWPA.
  4. Richard H. Steckel, 1982. "Height and Per Capita Income," NBER Working Papers 0880, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Fogel, Robert W., 1993. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1993-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  7. Oded_Galor, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth:Unified Growth Theory," Working Papers 2004-15, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  8. Sharp, Paul & Strulik, Holger & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2012. "The determinants of income in a Malthusian equilibrium," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 112-117.
  9. Aiyar, Shekhar & Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Moav, Omer, 2006. "Technological Progress and Regress in Pre-Industrial Times," CEPR Discussion Papers 5454, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," Arbetsrapport 2000:5, Institute for Futures Studies.
  11. Robert E. Lucas, 2000. "Some Macroeconomics for the 21st Century," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 159-168, Winter.
  12. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2001. "The U.S. Structural Transformation and Regional Convergence: A Reinterpretation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 584-616, June.
  13. Yoko Akachi & David Canning, 2007. "The Height of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Role of Health, Nutrition, and Income in Childhood," PGDA Working Papers 2207, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  14. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World
    [A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  15. Lee, Maw Lin & Loschky, David, 1987. "Malthusian Population Oscillations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 727-39, September.
  16. Schneider, Ryan, 1996. "Historical note on height and parental consumption decisions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 279-283, February.
  17. Köpke, Nikola & Baten, Jörg, 2003. "The biological standard of living in Europe during the last two millennia," Tübinger Diskussionsbeiträge 265, University of Tübingen, School of Business and Economics.
  18. Matthew Baker, 2008. "A structural model of the transition to agriculture," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 257-292, December.
  19. Weir, David R., 1993. "Parental Consumption Decisions and Child Health During the Early French Fertility Decline, 1790–1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(02), pages 259-274, June.
  20. 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.
  21. Galor, Oded & Weil, David, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2082, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  22. Salam Abdus & Peter Rangazas, 2011. "Adult Nutrition and Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(4), pages 636-649, October.
  23. Gustafsson, Bjorn & Kjulin, Urban, 1994. "Time Use in Child Care and Housework and the Total Cost of Children," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 287-306, July.
  24. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1986. "On Measuring Child Costs: With Applications to Poor Countries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 720-44, August.
  25. 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.
  26. Strauss, John, 1986. "Does Better Nutrition Raise Farm Productivity?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 297-320, April.
  27. Brinkman, Henk Jan & Drukker, J. W. & Slot, Brigitte, 1988. "Height and income: A new method for the estimation of historical national income series," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 227-264, July.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Economic Logic blog

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:gdec10:3. 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: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.