A Parable of Small Animals and Megafauna Extinction: A Paleo-Economic Theory of Climate Change versus Human Overkill in the Pleistocene

E.H. Bulte, R.D. Horan, J.F. Shogren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

After centuries of debate, paleontologists are converging towards the conclusion that human overkill caused the massive extinction of large mammals in the late Pleistocene. This paper revisits the question of megafauna extinction by incorporating economic behavior into the debate. We allow for endogenous human population growth, and labor allocation decisions involving activities such as wildlife harvesting and (proto) agriculture. We find that the role of agriculture in deciding the fate of megafauna was small. In contrast, the presence of ordinary small animals that have been overlooked in previous non-economic extinction models is likely to have been much more important.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-323
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Volume59
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Keywords

  • resource use
  • population
  • rationality
  • economics
  • island
  • exploitation
  • environment
  • fishery
  • models

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