An Economic and Rational Choice Approach to the Autism Spectrum and Human Neurodiversity
George Mason University - Department of Economics
December 22, 2011
GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 11-58
This paper considers an economic approach to autistic individuals, as a window for understanding autism, as a new and growing branch of neuroeconomics (how does behavior vary with neurology?), and as a foil for better understanding non-autistics and their cognitive biases. The relevant economic predictions for autistics involve greater specialization in production and consumption, lower price elasticities of supply and demand, a higher return from choosing features of their environment, less effective use of social focal points, and higher relative returns as economic growth and specialization proceed. There is also evidence that autistics are less subject to framing effects and more rational on the receiving end of ultimatum games. Considering autistics modifies some of the standard results from economic theories of the family and the economics of discrimination. Although there are likely more than seventy million autistic individuals worldwide, the topic has been understudied by economists. An economic approach also helps us see shortcomings in the "pure disorder" models of autism.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: Neuroeconomics, autism, neurodiversity, rational choice theory
JEL Classification: A12, B41
Date posted: December 22, 2011
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