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Subsistence: A Bio-economic Foundation of the Malthusian Equilibrium

Holger Strulik () and Carl-Johan Dalgaard ()

No 31, Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Göttingen 2007 from Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics

Abstract: This paper develops a bio-economic Malthusian growth model. By integrating recent research on allometric scaling, energy consumption, and ontogenetic growth we provide a model where subsistence consumption is endogenously linked to body mass and fertility. The theory admits a two-dimensional Malthusian equilibrium characterized by population density and body mass (metabolic rate) of the representative adult. As a result, the analysis allows us to examine the link between, in particular, human biology and long run income, body mass and population size. Off the steady-state we investigate the possibility of cyclical behavior of the size of a population and the size of its representative member. We also demonstrate that a take-off into sustained growth should be associated with increasing income, population size, and body mass. The increase in the latter is, however, bounded and can be viewed as convergence to a biologically determined upper limit.

Keywords: Subsistence; Nutrition; Metabolism; Population Growth; Ontogenetic Growth; Malthus (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I12 O11 J13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2007
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