Samuel Bowles, Jung-Kyoo Choi

Paper #: 2016-09-016

We show that familiar explanations of the Neolithic agricultural revolution including superior labor productivity of farming, population pressure, or adverse climate change are inconsistent with the evidence now available. Our model along with archaeological evidence shows that a new system of property rights was a precondition that could have been sufficiently common in a few places to favor the independent take-up of farming. Thus farming could have emerged because it facilitated the application of private property to a wider domain of economic activities (which reduced conflict among group members) even though it was not initially a superior technology.