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Coevolutionary Investments in Human Speech and Trade

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

We propose a novel explanation for the emergence of language in modern humans, and the lack thereof in other hominids. A coevolutionary process, where trade facilitates speech and speech facilitates trade, driven by expectations and potentially influenced by geography, gives rise to multiple stable development trajectories. While the trade-speech equilibrium is not an inevitable outcome for modern humans, we do find that it is a relatively likely result given that our species evolved in Africa under climatic conditions supporting relatively high population densities.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/21318
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Paper provided by American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association) in its series 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA with number 21318.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea06:21318
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  1. Horan, Richard D. & Bulte, Erwin & Shogren, Jason F., 2005. "How trade saved humanity from biological exclusion: an economic theory of Neanderthal extinction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 1-29, September.
  2. Brander, James A & Taylor, M Scott, 1998. "The Simple Economics of Easter Island: A Ricardo-Malthus Model of Renewable Resource Use," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 119-38, March.
  3. Samuel Bowles & Astrid Hopfensitz, 2000. "The Co-evolution of Individual Behaviors and Social Institutions," Working Papers 00-12-073, Santa Fe Institute.
  4. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," Arbetsrapport 2000:5, Institute for Futures Studies.
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  6. William Brock & Anastasios Xepapadeas, 2004. "Ecosystem Management in Models of Antagonistic Species Coevolution," Working Papers 0503, University of Crete, Department of Economics.
  7. Matthew J. Baker, 2003. "An Equilibrium Conflict Model of Land Tenure in Hunter-Gatherer Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(1), pages 124-173, February.
  8. Olsson, Ola & Hibbs, Douglas Jr., 2005. "Biogeography and long-run economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 909-938, May.
  9. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716, August.
  10. Matthew J. Baker, 2005. "Technological Progress, Population Growth, Property Rights, and the Transition to Agriculture," Departmental Working Papers 9, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
  11. Hansson, Ingemar & Stuart, Charles, 1990. "Malthusian Selection of Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 529-44, June.
  12. 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.
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