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Sexual selection, conspicuous consumption and economic growth

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  • Jason Collins

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  • Boris Baer
  • Ernst Weber

Abstract

We propose that the evolution by sexual selection of the male propensity to engage in conspicuous consumption contributed to the emergence of modern rates of economic growth. We develop a model in which males engage in conspicuous consumption to send an honest signal of their quality to females. Females prefer males who express the costly and honest signal, leading males who engage in conspicuous consumption to have higher reproductive success than those who do not, increasing the prevalence of signalling males in the population. As males fund their conspicuous consumption through participation in the labour force, an increase in the prevalence of signalling males gives rise to an increase in economic activity that leads to economic growth. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Collins & Boris Baer & Ernst Weber, 2015. "Sexual selection, conspicuous consumption and economic growth," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 189-206, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbioec:v:17:y:2015:i:2:p:189-206
    DOI: 10.1007/s10818-015-9200-9
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Quamrul H. Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2016. "The Macrogenoeconomics of Comparative Development," Department of Economics Working Papers 2016-02, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Apr 2018.
    2. Jason Collins & Boris Baer & Ernst Juerg Weber, 2016. "Evolutionary Biology in Economics: A Review," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 92(297), pages 291-312, June.
    3. Richters, Oliver & Siemoneit, Andreas, 2017. "How imperative are the Joneses? Economic growth between desire and social coercion," VÖÖ Discussion Papers 4/2017, Vereinigung für Ökologische Ökonomie e.V. (VÖÖ).

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