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Viewpoint: The economics of hunter-gatherer societies and the evolution of human characteristics

Author

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  • Arthur Robson
  • Hillard Kaplan

Abstract

We argue for attention to the evolutionary origins of economic behaviour. Going beyond this, we argue that the economy of hunting and gathering was the context in which evolution shaped human characteristics that underlie modern economic behaviour. We first reconsider the basic biological question of why aging occurs at all. We then illustrate the usefulness of considering foraging economics by asking why it is biologically advantageous for humans to live long after their reproductive career is over. Further, we argue that foraging economics would have led to the simultaneous exaggeration of intelligence and of longevity that is characteristic of humans.

Suggested Citation

  • Arthur Robson & Hillard Kaplan, 2006. "Viewpoint: The economics of hunter-gatherer societies and the evolution of human characteristics," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(2), pages 375-398, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:39:y:2006:i:2:p:375-398
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2007. "Made for Toil: Natural selection at the dawn of agriculture," Working Papers halshs-00587788, HAL.
    2. Francesconi, Marco & Ghiglino, Christian & Perry, Motty, 2009. "On the Origin of the Family," IZA Discussion Papers 4637, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2007. "Made for Toil: Natural selection at the dawn of agriculture," PSE Working Papers halshs-00587788, HAL.
    4. Dow, Gregory K. & Reed, Clyde G., 2011. "Stagnation and innovation before agriculture," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 339-350, March.
    5. Francesconi, Marco & Ghiglino, Christian & Perry, Motty, 2016. "An evolutionary theory of monogamy," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 605-628.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General

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