Accounting for Evolution: An Assessment of the Population Method
Growth dynamics and structural change are the two central features of variation / selection processes within populations. This paper explores them in terms of three themes, or sets of accounts, namely Logistic Growth Accounting, Competition Accounting and the Price Theorem. The accounting concepts have in common a concern with 'population thinking' and are essential elements in the study of economic development interpreted as the transformation of initial populations of activities into new kinds of populations. Development can be uncovered at many levels in an economic system, for example in the competitive process at the level of industries, sectors and markets. Business rivalry, underpinned by differential innovative activity, is the basis of the differential survival and growth of competing economic activities and the strategies deployed to create sustainable differences in competitive selection characteristics are at the core of the capitalist dynamic interpreted as an adaptive, evolutionary process. This kind of evolutionary argument is necessarily concerned with growth rate dynamics and the explanation of the diversity of growth rates across entities in a population. The accounting relationships presented are a prelude to deeper causal explanations of evolution in institutions, economies and perhaps in knowledge itself.
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