Made for Toil: Natural Selection at the Dawn of Agriculture

Paris School of Economics Working Paper No. 2007-33

31 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2007 Last revised: 10 Dec 2007

See all articles by Jacob Louis Weisdorf

Jacob Louis Weisdorf

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 2007

Abstract

The labour input among pre-historic foragers was normally rewarded within the same day of the effort. For the first farmers, by contrast, labour input and its rewards could be far apart. However, the patience was worthwhile: population growth rates among early agriculturalists were up to 60 times higher than those of their foraging counterparts. It is well-known from the biological science that humans differ with respect to metabolism. This study argues that rates of metabolism well-suited for the many hours of labour input required for farming gained an evolutionary advantage with the advent of agriculture. This theory helps shedding light on the puzzles why farming was adopted despite its high labour costs, and why people of agricultural societies work more than their foraging counterparts.

Keywords: Hunting, Labour Input, Malthus, Metabolism, Neolithic Revolution, Patience Capital

JEL Classification: J10, J22, Q56, O10

Suggested Citation

Weisdorf, Jacob Louis, Made for Toil: Natural Selection at the Dawn of Agriculture (November 2007). Paris School of Economics Working Paper No. 2007-33. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1037461 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1037461

Jacob Louis Weisdorf (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Ă˜ster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark

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