How Tight are Malthusian Constraints?
T. Ryan Johnson () and
Dietrich Vollrath ()
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T. Ryan Johnson: University of Houston
No 2017-192-55, Working Papers from Department of Economics, University of Houston
We provide a methodology to estimate the elasticity of agricultural output with respect to land - the Malthusian constraint - using variation in rural densities across different locations. We use district-level data from around the globe on rural densities and inherent agricultural productivity to estimate the elasticity for various sub-samples. We find the elasticity is highest in areas that are suitable for temperate crops such as wheat or rye, and loosest in areas suitable for (sub)-tropical crops such as cassava or rice. We show theoretically that a higher elasticity results in greater sensitivity of non-agricultural employment and real income per capita to shocks in population size and productivity, and confirm this with evidence from the post-war mortality transition.
Keywords: land constraints; Malthusian stagnation; agriculture; land elasticity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O1 O13 O44 Q10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:hou:wpaper:2017-192-55
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