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From Neolithic Revolution to Industrialization

Chu, Angus C. and Xu, Rongxin (2022): From Neolithic Revolution to Industrialization.

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Abstract

This study develops a Malthusian model for the evolution from hunting-gathering to agriculture and from agriculture to industrial production. Human society evolves across these stages as the population grows. However, under endogenous population growth, the population may stop growing at any stage. If it fails to reach the first threshold, the population remains as hunter-gatherers. If it reaches the first threshold, an agricultural society emerges. Then, if the population fails to reach the industrial threshold, it remains in an agricultural Malthusian trap without experiencing industrialization. Interestingly, high agricultural productivity not only triggers the Neolithic Revolution but also the subsequent industrialization. Finally, we use cross-country data to test this theoretical result and employ an index of prehistoric biogeographic conditions that affect agricultural productivity as an instrument for the timing of transitions to agriculture and find that an earlier transition to agriculture has a positive effect on industrialization in the modern era.

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