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From Foraging to Agriculture

Nicolas Marceau () and Gordon Myers

Discussion Papers from Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University

Abstract: We consider a world in which the mode of food production, foraging or agriculture, is endogenous, and in which technology grows exogenously. Using a recent model of coalition formation, we allow individuals to rationally form cooperative communities (bands) of foragers or farmers. At the lowest levels of technology, equilibrium entails the grand coalition of foragers, a cooperative structure which avoids over-exploitation of the environment. But at a critical state of technology, the cooperative structure breaks down through an individually rational splintering of the band. At this stage there can be an increase in work and, through the over-exploitation of the environment, a food crisis. In the end, technological growth leads to a one-way transition from foraging to agriculture.

Pages: 33 pages
Date: 2000, Revised 2000-02
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