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Technological Progress and Regress in Pre-Industrial Times

Omer Moav, Carl-Johan Dalgaard () and Shekhar Aiyar

No 5454, CEPR Discussion Papers from C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers

Abstract: This paper offers micro-foundations for the dynamic relationship between technology and population in the pre-industrial world, accounting for both technological progress and the hitherto neglected but common phenomenon of technological regress. A growing population engenders the endogenous adoption of new techniques that increase the division of labour. Conversely, technological progress supports an increasing population in the Malthusian environment. A transient shock to population or productivity, however, induces the neglect of some techniques rendered temporarily unprofitable, which are therefore not transmitted to the next generation. When the shock passes, the division of labour remains constrained by the smaller stock of knowledge, and technology has thereby regressed. A slow process of rediscovery is required for the economy to reach its previous level of technological sophistication and population size.

Keywords: Technological regress; Technological progress; Malthusian stagnation; Division of labour (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J11 O10 O33 O40 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2006-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev, nep-his and nep-ino
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Journal Article: Technological progress and regress in pre-industrial times (2008) Downloads
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