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The Evolution of Human Life Expectancy and Intelligence in Hunter-Gatherer Economies

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  • Arthur J. Robson
  • Hillard S. Kaplan

Abstract

The economics of hunting and gathering must have driven the biological evolution of human characteristics, since hunter-gatherer societies prevailed for the two million years of human history. These societies feature huge intergenerational resource flows, suggesting that these resource flows should replace fertility as the key demographic consideration. It is then theoretically expected that life expectancy and brain size would increase simultaneously, as apparently occurred during our evolutionary history. The brain here is considered as a direct form of bodily investment, but also crucially as facilitating further indirect investment by means of learning-by-doing.

Suggested Citation

  • Arthur J. Robson & Hillard S. Kaplan, 2003. "The Evolution of Human Life Expectancy and Intelligence in Hunter-Gatherer Economies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 150-169, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:93:y:2003:i:1:p:150-169
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282803321455205
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rogers, Alan R, 1994. "Evolution of Time Preference by Natural Selection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 460-481, June.
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    6. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
    7. Ehrlich, Isaac & Chuma, Hiroyuki, 1990. "A Model of the Demand for Longevity and the Value of Life Extension," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 761-782, August.
    8. Arthur J. Robson, 2001. "The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 11-33, March.
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