Sunday, 5 February 2017

Seasonality and the invention of agriculture

Why was agriculture invented in one of the big questions in economic history. In a new working paper, The Ant and the Grasshopper: Seasonality and the Invention of Agriculture, Andrea Matranga argues that there is a link between seasonality and agriculture.
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. Hunter-gatherers in the most affected regions became sedentary in order to store food and smooth their consumption. I present a model capturing the key incentives for adopting agriculture, and I test the resulting 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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