Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Ant and the Grasshopper: Seasonality and the Invention of Agriculture

Matranga, Andrea (2017): The Ant and the Grasshopper: Seasonality and the Invention of Agriculture.

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Abstract

During the Neolithic Revolution, seven populations independently invented agriculture. In this paper, I argue that this innovation was a response to a large increase in climatic seasonality. In the most affected regions, hunter-gatherers abandoned their traditional nomadism in order to store food and smooth their consumption. Their new sedentary lifestyle greatly simplified the invention and adoption of agriculture. I present a model that captures the key incentives for adopting agriculture, and I test the resultant predictions against a global panel dataset of climate conditions and Neolithic adoption dates. I find that invention and adoption were both systematically more likely in places with higher seasonality. The findings of this paper imply that seasonality patterns 10,000 years ago were amongst the major determinants of the present day global distribution of crop productivities, ethnic groups, cultural traditions, and political institutions.

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