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Modelling the Middle AgesThe History and Theory of England's Economic Development$
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John Hatcher and Mark Bailey

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199244119

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199244119.001.0001

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Population and Resources

Population and Resources

(p.21) 2 Population and Resources
Modelling the Middle Ages

John Hatcher

Mark Bailey

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines a series of plausible arguments intended to demonstrate that the key to economic development is to be found in the relationship between population and resources, labour and land, people and the environment, and the economic forces that they generate. Agriculture dominated the economy of medieval England. Farming technology changed but slowly, and most farms were small and utilised little capital. Hence the relationship between the numbers of people and the amount of land available to support them was significant to the economy. It is upon such fundamentals that the model variously named as the ‘population and resources’, ‘demographic’, or ‘neo-Malthusian’ model is founded. This model puts forward explanations of the operation of the medieval economy and society, and of long-term trends in economic growth and the distribution of incomes, which have at their core a set of simple economic relationships between land and labour.

Keywords:   economic development, medieval economy, population, resources, labour, land, Thomas Malthus, agriculture, demographic model, neo-Malthusian model

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