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The Neolithic Revolution from a price-theoretic perspective

Guzmán, Ricardo Andrés and Weisdorf, Jacob (2009): The Neolithic Revolution from a price-theoretic perspective.

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Abstract

The adoption of agriculture during the Neolithic triggered the first demographic explosion in history. When fertility returned to its original level, early farmers found themselves more poorly nourished than hunter-gatherers and working longer hours to make ends meet. We develop a dynamic, price-theoretic model that rationalizes these events: in the short-run, fertility and utility increase; in the long-run, consumption, leisure, and utility fall below their initial levels. This, we argue, can be attributed to the rise in child labor productivity that followed the adoption of agriculture. Counter-intuitively, an increase in the productivity of children may lead to a permanent reduction in utility.

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