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Journal of Economic Literature: Vol. 39 No. 1 (March 2001)

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The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior

Article Citation

Robson, Arthur J. 2001. "The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior." Journal of Economic Literature, 39(1): 11-33.

DOI: 10.1257/jel.39.1.11

Abstract

This paper first considers the implications of biological evolution for economic preferences. It analyzes why utility functions evolved, considers evidence that utility is both hedonic and adaptive, and suggests why such adaptation might have evolved. Time preference and attitudes to risk are treated--in particular, whether the former is exponential and the latter are selfish. Arguments for another form of interdependence--a concern with status--are treated. The paper then considers the evolution of rationality. One hypothesis examined is that human intelligence and longevity were forged by hunter-gatherer economies; another is that intelligence was spurred by competitive social interactions.

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Authors

Robson, Arthur J. (U Western Ontario)

JEL Classifications

B52: Current Heterodox Approaches: Institutional; Evolutionary
D00: Microeconomics: General


Journal of Economic Literature


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