The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Agricultural Growth and Population Change

  • E. Boserup
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95189-5_554

Abstract

The macroeconomic theory of the relationship between demographic and agricultural change was developed by Malthus and Ricardo in the early stage of demographic transition in Europe, and interest in classical theory was revived in the middle of this century, when economists became aware of the unfolding demographic transition in other parts of the world. Ricardo (1817) distinguished between two types of agricultural expansion in response to population growth. One is the extensive margin, the expansion into new land which he supposed would yield diminishing returns to labour and capital because the new land was presumed to be more distant or of poorer quality than the land already in use. The other type, the intensive margin, is more intensive cultivation of the existing fields, raising crop yields by such means as better fertilization, weeding, draining, and other land preparation. This also was likely to yield diminishing returns to labour and capital. Therefore Ricardo assumed, with Malthus (1803), that population increase would sooner or later be arrested by a decline in real wages, increase of rents, and decline of per capita food consumption.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access

Bibliography

  1. Boserup, E. 1965. The conditions of agricultural growth. London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  2. Boserup, E. 1981. Population and technological change. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Lewis, W.A. 1954. Economic development with unlimited supplies of labour. Manchester School of Economic and Social Studies 22(2): 139–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Malthus, T.R. 1803. An essay on population. London: J.M. Dent, 1958.Google Scholar
  5. Nurkse, R. 1953. Problems of capital formation in underdeveloped countries. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Ricardo, D. 1817. The principles of political economy and taxation, ed. P. Sraffa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951.Google Scholar
  7. Schultz, T.W. 1964. Transforming traditional agriculture. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Schuttjer, W., and C. Stokes (eds.). 1984. Rural development and human fertility. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Boserup
    • 1
  1. 1.