Lecture 5 - The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth A...

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The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis James A. Robinson Harvard September 23, 2009 James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis September 23, 2009 1 / 21
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Institutions and the Neolithic Revolution The empirical evidence in °Colonial Origins±and elsewhere suggests that relative income per-capita today seems to be explained by di/erences in economic institutions. The approach of Diamond however suggests that income per-capita is completely determined by agricultural productivity which is determined by the exogenous availability of crops and animals that can be domesticated. To unlock this potential, however, people had to make the momentous transition from hunting and gathering to farming and sedentary life. According to Diamond, this happens ²rst in places where it was most attractive, for instance the °hilly ³anks±of the fertile crescent. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis September 23, 2009 2 / 21
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Diamond±s factors (Ch 6) that facilitated farming 1 Declining availability of wild foods makes hunting´gathering less attractive e.g., depletion of big game like mammoths. 2 Greater availability of wild plants due to increase in temperatures after the last ice age. 3 Gradual development of technologies, like sickles and grinding stones that would be important in farming. 4 Rising population during the Pleistocene period. 5 Farming led to rapidly increasing population densities and farmers became more numerous and were able to kill and destroy hunter-gatherers. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis September 23, 2009 3 / 21
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Diamond±s Perspective He discusses the transition to agriculture without discussing institutions or social organization. He does say that societies don±t always take decisions that are best for them he regards this as noise which can only create transitory dynamics not really worth discussing. This view is quite problematical, or at least contestable, as I shall argue. There is now a great deal of evidence that social change preceded the transition to agriculture. One of the most famous examples is Gµbekli Tepe in eastern Turkey. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis September 23, 2009 4 / 21
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The Long Summer Alley, Richard B. (2000) “The Younger Dryas cold interval as viewed from central Greenland,” Quaternary Science Reviews , 19, Issues 1-5, p. 213-226.
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Gµbekli Tepe Soon after 9600BCE people came to Gµbekli Tepe and carved massive T-shaped pillars out of limestone. Many were 8 feet high and weighed 7 tons and had been brought from as far as 100m away.
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