Lecture: August 31: Thinking Like a Macroeconomist
The Problem of Hurricane Katrina Is Solved

Lecture: September 2: Economic Growth Since Deep Time

Lecture: September 2: Economic Growth Since Deep Time

U.C. Berkeley Economics 101b, Fall 2005

The East African Plains Ape Becomes Human

  • Very big brains
  • Tools
  • Culture
  • Manipulation of environment

(Some) Humans Move Out of Africa

  • 50000 years ago?
  • No signs of interbreeding with other non-African proto-human populations
  • Genetic differences?
    • 2000 generations is not a long time for Uncle Charles Darwin to work
    • Facial features, hair, lactose-tolerance, sickle cell and anemia resistance, Tay-Sachs
    • And, of course, melanin: rickets, vitamin D, melanoma
      • Skin color as a marker of slave status in the Americas: it kept slavery going for centuries after indentured servitude (which did not use skin color as a marker) broke down
    • Woolier and unsubstantiated stories:
      • Jared Diamond on how people in Papua New Guinea are smarter than the rest of us
      • In northern latitudes keeping warm is important: selection for dumpy and less athletic body types?
      • But don't go there: evolutionary behavior is still nothing more than a source of just-so stories, and has been a source of immense ignorance and terror in the past
    • The way to think of it, I have been told, is that there is less genetic variation in the entire human race than in a single baboon troop

Hunter gatherers * Pretty ferocious--even East African Plains Apes of two million years ago could drive hyenas from their dens * Sophisticated Cro-Magnon technology * Sophisticated Cro-Magnon culture--doing a lot of things that mark them as fully human * Life was nasty, brutish, and short--but athletic * Cro-Magnon hunter-gatherers * Average menarche at 16? * Life expectancy of 25? * Seven pregnancies to term? * But infinitesimal population growth means ferocious infant mortality * But they were buff: adult male heights of 5'8" or so

Neolithic Revolution

  • Herd animals to be domesticated
  • Plants with big seeds
    • Wheat
    • Rice
    • Corn--an amazing plant
  • Agriculture sees like an enormously good deal at the start
  • Well-nourished and easy-living agricultural populations expand rapidly
    • Farm sizes diminish
    • And Thomas Robert Malthus shows up
  • Agriculture allows human race to grow from ca. 3 million (or less) in 10000 BC to ca. 170 million (or so) in 1
  • Agriculturalists stomp hunter-gatherers, and usually herdsmen
    • Exception: people on horses with bows can hold their own
    • In fact, people on horses with bows can sometimes do much more than hold their own: Atilla, Temujin--until reliable firearms

What Is Agricultural Life Like?

  • Nasty, brutish, short--and definitely not buff
  • Menarche at 18?
  • Life expectancy of 25?
  • 6? pregnancies to term
  • Huge childhood mortality--population growth is once again glacial--except for initial settlement phases
    • Alleviation of Malthusian misery (partial) by European household marriage or Asian lineage family
    • Psychological stress produced by these social institutions--telling your daughter she can't marry her boyfriend until he has a farm, or telling your younger brother he can't have a wife...
  • Agriculturalists definitely not buff--adult male heights of 5'2" or so
  • Plus
    • Agriculture means thugs with spears--rulers and warrior castes
    • Agriculture means thugs with pens--star watchers who keep records and can tell you when to plan become priests

By the Yeqr 1, the Human Race Was Biologically and Technologically Successful--But Pretty Miserable