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Can sustainable consumption be learned? A model of cultural evolution

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  • Buenstorf, Guido
  • Cordes, Christian

Abstract

This paper shows how sustainable consumption patterns can spread within a population via processes of social learning even though a strong individual learning bias may favor environmentally harmful products. We present a model depicting how the biased transmission of different behaviors via individual and social learning influences agents' consumption behavior. The underlying learning biases can be traced back to evolved cognitive dispositions. Challenging the vision of a permanent transition toward sustainability, we argue that "green" consumption patterns are not self-reinforcing and cannot be "locked in" permanently.

Suggested Citation

  • Buenstorf, Guido & Cordes, Christian, 2008. "Can sustainable consumption be learned? A model of cultural evolution," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 646-657, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:67:y:2008:i:4:p:646-657
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    References listed on IDEAS

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