On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture*


  • *

     We thank Vicky Barham, Greg Dow, David de Meza (the Editor), Brian Hayden, four referees and seminar participants at the Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, University of Essex, University of Kentucky, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, Montreal 2001 Journées du GREEN-CIRANO, Toronto meeting of the Canadian Public Economics Study Group, Vancouver meeting of the Canadian Theory Group and 8th World Congress of the Econometric Society for their comments and FQRSC and SSHRCC for its financial support.


We consider a world in which the mode of food production, foraging or agriculture, is endogenous, and in which technology grows exogenously. Within a model of coalition formation, we allow individuals to form co-operative communities (bands) of foragers or farmers rationally. At the lowest levels of technology, equilibrium entails the grand coalition of foragers, a co-operative structure which avoids over-exploitation of the environment. But at a critical state of technology, the co-operative structure breaks down through an individually rational splintering of the band. At this stage, there can be an increase in work and through the over-exploitation of the environment, a food crisis. In the end, technological growth may lead to a one-way transition from foraging to agriculture.