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The Rise of Neolithic Agriculture

Ola Olsson ()

No 57, Working Papers in Economics from University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics

Abstract: The article analyzes the economic reasons behind the rise of Neolithic agriculture some 10,000 years ago in consideration of evidence that agriculture was not associated with increasing standards of living. On the basis of archeological and anthropological literature, the article presents a modelling framework that allows for four broad explanations to the agricultural transition; (i) environmental conditions, (ii) population pressure,(iii) cultural influence, and (iv) external factors. It is shown that the introduction of agriculture first increases welfare but then leads to a steady decline. The reason for this deterioration is the switch from a pure Malthusian population growth regime to a partly exogenous regime where population grows without constraints and drive hunter-gatherers into agriculture in a Boserupian manner. When the model is confronted with archeological evidence from the Jordan Valley, it appears that envi-ronmental change, population growth, and a uniquely favourable biogeography for domestication led to the introduction of agriculture.

Keywords: agricultur; hunting-gathering; environment; technology; population; transition. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N55 O33 Q18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr
Date: 2001-09-27
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