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Joint determination of biological encephalization, economic specialization

  • Horan, Richard D.
  • Shogren, Jason F.
  • Bulte, Erwin H.

In this paper, we develop a paleoeconomic model of the co-evolution of economic specialization and encephalization--the common physiological measure of intelligence as reflected by brain mass relative to total body mass. Our economic analysis links ecological and social intelligence theories of increased encephalization in early hominins through a model in which both economic and ecological feedbacks jointly determined the evolutionary incentives. We focus on degrees of specialization affected by coordination costs with and without market exchange. Our results suggest encephalization would be a process characterized by diminishing returns to behavioral advances. In terms of the long-running debate in economics over whether specialization increases or decreases intelligence, our results suggest from an evolutionary perspective the answer depends on economic/social institutions and how these influence ecological interactions.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Resource and Energy Economics.

Volume (Year): 33 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 426-439

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Handle: RePEc:eee:resene:v:33:y:2011:i:2:p:426-439
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505569

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  1. Shogren, Jason F. & Crocker, Thomas D., 1999. "Risk and Its Consequences," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 44-51, January.
  2. Shogren, Jason F. & Crocker, Thomas D. & Forster, Bruce A., 1991. "Valuing Potential Groundwater Protection Benefits," Staff General Research Papers 335, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Becker, G.S. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 92-5, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  4. Hansson, Ingemar & Stuart, Charles, 1990. "Malthusian Selection of Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 529-44, June.
  5. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," Arbetsrapport 2000:5, Institute for Futures Studies.
  6. Horan, R.D. & Bulte, E.H. & Shogren, J.F., 2005. "How trade saved humanity from biological exclusion : An economic theory of Neanderthal extinction," Other publications TiSEM fe79a9d2-e9e3-4dbc-9539-c, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  7. 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.
  8. Thomas Crocker & John Tschirhart, 1992. "Ecosystems, externalities, and economies," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(6), pages 551-567, November.
  9. Nicolas Marceau & Gordon Myers, 2005. "On the Early Holocene: Foraging to Early Agriculture," Cahiers de recherche 0502, CIRPEE.
  10. U. Dieckmann & R. Law, 1996. "The Dynamical Theory of Coevolution: A Derivation from Stochastic Ecological Processes," Working Papers wp96001, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
  11. Arthur J. Robson, 2005. "Complex Evolutionary Systems and the Red Queen," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(504), pages F211-F224, 06.
  12. Partha Dasgupta, 1995. "The Population Problem: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1879-1902, December.
  13. Shih-Neng Chen & Jason F. Shogren & Peter F. Orazem & Thomas D. Crocker, 2002. "Prices and Health: Identifying the Effects of Nutrition, Exercise, and Medication Choices on Blood Pressure," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(4), pages 990-1002.
  14. Mark Agee & Thomas Crocker*, 1998. "Economies, Human Capital, and Natural Assets," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(3), pages 261-271, April.
  15. Richard Horan & Erwin Bulte & Jason Shogren, 2008. "Coevolution of human speech and trade," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 293-313, December.
  16. Settle, Chad & Crocker, Thomas D. & Shogren, Jason F., 2002. "On the joint determination of biological and economic systems," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 301-311, August.
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