American Economic Review: Vol. 101 No. 5 (August 2011)


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Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch

Article Citation

Ashraf, Quamrul, and Oded Galor. 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch." American Economic Review, 101(5): 2003-41.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.101.5.2003


This paper examines the central hypothesis of the influential Malthusian theory, according to which improvements in the technological environment during the preindustrial era had generated only temporary gains in income per capita, eventually leading to a larger, but not significantly richer, population. Exploiting exogenous sources of cross-country variations in land productivity and the level of technological advancement, the analysis demonstrates that, in accordance with the theory, technological superiority and higher land productivity had significant positive effects on population density but insignificant effects on the standard of living, during the time period 1-1500 CE. (JEL N10, N30, N50, O10, O40, O50)

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Ashraf, Quamrul (Williams College)
Galor, Oded (Brown U)

JEL Classifications

N10: Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Growth and Fluctuations: General, International, or Comparative
N30: Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy: General, International, or Comparative
N50: Economic History: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Extractive Industries: General, International, or Comparative
O10: Economic Development: General
O40: Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity: General
O50: Economywide Country Studies: General

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