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Property Rights, Warfare and the Neolithic Transition

Robert Rowthorn and Paul Seabright

No 10-207, TSE Working Papers from Toulouse School of Economics (TSE)

Abstract: This paper explains the multiple adoption of agriculture around ten thousand years ago, in spite of the fact that the first farmers suffered worse health and nutrition than their hunter gatherer predecessors. If output is harder for farmers to defend, adoption may entail increased defense investments, and equilibrium consumption levels may decline as agricultural productivity increases over a significant range, before eventually increasing thereafter. Agricultural adoption may have been a prisoners’ dilemma in that adoption was individually attractive even though all groups would have been better off committing not to adopt while the initial productivity advantage of agriculture remained low.

Keywords: agriculture; defense; property rights; contest functions; Neolithic transition (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D74 N30 N40 O12 O40 Q10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010-11
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