DP7057 | Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch: Theory and Evidence

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This paper empirically tests the predictions of the Malthusian theory with respect to both population dynamics and income per capita stagnation in the pre-Industrial Revolution era. The theory suggests that improvements in technology during this period generated only temporary gains in income per capita, eventually leading to a larger but not richer population. Using exogenous cross-country variations in land productivity and the timing of the Neolithic Revolution, the analysis demonstrates that, in accordance with the Malthusian theory, societies that were characterized by higher land productivity and an earlier onset of agriculture had higher population densities, but similar standards of living, during the time period 1-1500 CE.