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Essays On Genetic Evolution And Economics by Terence Charles Burnham

Ever since Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, genetic evolutionary theory has increasingly served as the foundation for fields that deal with organisms that arose by natural selection. This thesis argues that economic theory should integrate with Darwinian theory through the creation of a "genetic evolutionary economics". The promise of genetic evolutionary economics is a better understanding of human nature and, consequently, a more accurate and comprehensive economic science.Economic theory rests on a set of assumptions about human nature. These economic axioms concern human genes, but there is no explicit connection between genetic evolution and economic theory. As a result, human behavior and economic predictions of that behavior diverge in a variety of important settings. Why, for example, do most people save too little for the future when economics assumes that they will save enough? Chapter 2 discusses the difficulties inherent in the standard economic approach. Natural selection theory, the chapter argues, is the best tool for refining the axioms of economics. Genetic evolutionary economics allows the derivation of parameters that are intractable with standard economic techniques. There is, for instance, an ancient debate within economics about the role of self-interest in human affairs. Chapter 3 builds a genetic evolutionary model relevant to this issue, and concludes that a Darwinian lens removes many of the apparent paradoxes. Genetic evolutionary economics is a scientific endeavor. As such, it produces specific, testable hypotheses concerning behavior in economically relevant situations. Chapter 4 reports on a theoretical and experimental investigation of gift giving. A genetic evolutionary model organizes the existing data on gift giving and makes novel, testable predictions. Laboratory experiments, performed to test the theory, confirm the evolutionary model's predictions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780965856423
Publication date: 12/01/1997
Pages: 164
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.38(d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1Charles Darwin can help Adam Smith1
Natural selection operates on behavior2
Now is the time for genetic evolutionary economics4
Literature cited6
Chapter 2Genetic Evolutionary Economics8
Motivation for genetic evolutionary economics8
Genes and human nature21
Behavioral biology -- Theory23
Behavioral biology -- Lessons from other species26
Human behavioral biology30
Review of economic literature49
Genetic perspective on economics58
Concluding comments64
Literature cited65
Chapter 3Genetic Evolution and Selfishness77
A fundamental issue, two player cooperation and conflict79
Economic approach81
The promise of genetic evolutionary theory88
A genetic evolutionary economic model92
Literature cited109
AppendixRelative growth rates111
Chapter 4Engineering Altruism114
The role of self-interest in economic theory117
Early experimental data on altruism119
Moving beyond self-interest -- Formal models of altruism121
A genetic evolutionary prospective125
Experimental design136
Concluding comments145
Literature cited146
AppendixInstructions to subjects149

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