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Technological Progress and Regress in Pre-Industrial Times

24 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2005  

Shekhar S. Aiyar

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Carl‐Johan Dalgaard

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Omer Moav

University of Warwick - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Abstract

This paper offers micro-foundations for the dynamic relationship between technology and population in the pre-industrial world, accounting for both technological progress and the hitherto neglected but common phenomenon of technological regress. A growing population engenders the endogenous adoption of new techniques that increase the division of labor. Coversely, technological progress supports an increasing population in the Malthusian environment. A transient shock to population or productivity, however, induces the neglect of some techniques rendered temporarily unprofitable, which are therefore not transmitted to the next generation. When the shock passes, the division of labor remains constrained by the smaller stock of knowledge, and technology has thereby regressed. A slow process of rediscovery is required for the economy to reach its previous level of technological sophistication and population size. The model is employed to analyze specific historical examples of technological regress.

Keywords: Technological Regress, Technological Progress, Malthusian Stagnation, Division of Labor

JEL Classification: O10, O33, O40, J11

Suggested Citation

Aiyar, Shekhar S. and Dalgaard, Carl‐Johan and Moav, Omer, Technological Progress and Regress in Pre-Industrial Times. Journal of Economical Growth, Vol. 13, No. 2, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=870277

Shekhar S. Aiyar

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street NW - HQ 5-403
Washington, DC 20431
United States
202-623-8638 (Phone)

Carl-Johan Lars Dalgaard (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark
+45 3532 4407 (Phone)

Omer Moav

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/academic/moav

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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