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Neolithic Agricultural Revolution And Its Role In Origin Of Private Property

by Iqra Aslam
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Neolithic Agricultural Revolution and Private Property

The various explanations for the development of agriculture typically rely on some form of efficiency or population pressure. Efficiency means that something can be done more quickly and efficiently, and this is often used to explain why first farmers were those who had the experience to gain efficient production with limited resources. Therefore,  it is believed that the primeval hunter-gatherers were not simple humans; they were naturalized inhabitants of the world who interacted with nature in their own way for millions of years.

Studies have shown that some of the sedentary hunter-gatherers who became the first farmers might not have chosen farming if they did not own the property and have complete ownership rights. This has been a major problem in the world of agriculture since the early 1800s. During the early 1900s, humans began to own land for their own use, allowing them to grow food. Later, with the rise in land value, people began to grow their own food on their own land. As a result, land, and food have emerged as two of the most important resources in the world.

Neolithic agriculture, which relied on farming to provide sustenance for all, eventually became the dominant economic model. According to the Neolithic Economic Model, agriculture, foraging, and private property were coexisting. Due to the constant movement of people in search of food, this model created an economic system that lasted for centuries. As a result of this model, new technologies, such as irrigation, made water channeling much more effective and efficient.

However, it was also due to the persisting property rights that prevented the majority of countries from extending their policies into more regions and into more people’s private lands. Due to the constant movement of people in search of food, this model created an economic system that lasted for centuries.

A large portion of farmers in the 6th millennium BC followed the Neolithic model of agriculture. That period of history is known as the Chalcolithic. In this era, animals were not allowed to forage alone in the fields. Due to the increase in crop yields, farmers started paying more attention to increased production and more reliable food supplies. In addition, farmers were trying to increase the yields of various crops by using new technologies and practices. For example, they were thinking about when and how to use chemicals in order to improve the growth of plants. Because the increased crop yields led to an increase in food demand, as well as a decrease in food prices.


Furthermore, the greater concentrations of people and the subsequent emergence of hierarchical systems of government and eventually of states allowed farmers to have a strategic military advantage over foragers, which in turn allowed the Neolithic model to flourish more widely. Meanwhile, the property rights of farmers were the central character in this development. The studies show that there is a direct connection between landowning and agriculture; when male farmers do not inherit their farm’s wealth, on the contrary, they often become poor or unemployed.

Although, the property rights of farmers are often determined by the location in which they live and the resources available to produce.  The spreading of farming and its associated property rights was helped by factors such as air pollution, water shortages, land-use changes, and climate change. Thus, ultimately allowing for a significant increase in production opportunities for those who could afford them, as well as having the ability to market their product(s) through new technologies led to increased prosperity and development.

However, the Neolithic agricultural revolution was a challenge to the common view that changes in economic institutions accommodating prior innovations were necessary for the development of agriculture. The new technologies that characterized the neolithic period allowed for the development of agriculture and also led to increased productivity and tweakability of institutions. The studies claim there is evidence from both archaeological and scientific tests which suggests similar findings.

The account of the emergence of private property among Native Americans in the fur trade by Demsetz (1967) is a prominent example of the “technology-first” mindset. The fur trade was a significant event in the life of many Native Americans, who were forced to sell their clothes, food, and animals to the French. The private property idea continued to be used by them to enjoy exclusive use of a product for purposes of marketing and profit-making.


Therefore, this perspective of history has been used to understand institutions and their development within societies. It has also been used to explore the relationship between institutions and the environment. In recent decades, a new interest in how certain types of institutions can interact with specific groups or individuals has taken hold, leading to studies that explore the effects of particular types of assistance on different groups or individuals.


Reference: Bowles, S., & Choi, J. K. (2019). The Neolithic agricultural revolution and the origins of private property. Journal of Political Economy, 127(5), 2186-2228.


Read More: Neolithic Revolution: Also Called The Agricultural Revolution
Read MoreThe Agricultural Revolution: Start of Unprecedented Increase In Agriculture

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