Optimality and Natural Selection in Markets
Evolutionary arguments are often used to justify the fundamental behavioral postulates of competive equilibrium. Economists such as Milton Friedman have argued that natural selection favors profit maximizing firms over firms engaging in other behaviors. Consequently, producer efficiency, and therefore Pareto efficiency, are justified on evolutionary grounds. We examine these claims in an evolutionary general equilibrium model. If the economic environment were held constant, profitable firms would grow and unprofitable firms would shrink. In the general equilibrium model, prices change as factor demands and output supply evolves. Without capital markets, when firms can grow only through retained earnings, our model verifies Friedman's claim that natural selection favors profit maximization. But we show through examples that this does not imply that equilibrium allocations converge over time to efficient allocations. Consequently, Koopmans critique of Friedman is correct. When capital markets are added, and firms grow by attracting investment, Friedman's claim may fail. In either model the long-run outcomes of evolutionary market models are not well described by conventional General Equilibrium analysis with profit maximizing firms.
|Date of creation:||25 Dec 1997|
|Date of revision:||09 Jul 1998|
|Note:||Type of Document - Acrobat; prepared with pdftex; pages: 33; figures: in a separate acrobat file.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org|
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Alvaro Sandroni, 2000. "Do Markets Favor Agents Able to Make Accurate Predicitions?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1303-1342, November.
- Blume, Lawrence & Easley, David, 1992. "Evolution and market behavior," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 9-40, October.
- Blume, Lawrence E. & Easley, David, 1982. "Learning to be rational," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 340-351, April.
- Dutta, Prajit K & Radner, Roy, 1999. "Profit Maximization and the Market Selection Hypothesis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 769-98, October.
- Sidney G. Winter, 1964. "Economic "Natural Selection" and the Theory of the Firm," LEM Chapters Series, in: Yale Economic Essays, pages 225-272 Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
- Armen A. Alchian, 1950. "Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 211.
- Winter, Sidney G, 1971. "Satisficing, Selection, and the Innovating Remnant," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 237-61, May.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpge:9712003. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.