Sexual Selection, Conspicuous Consumption and Economic Growth
60 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2012 Last revised: 2 Mar 2013
Date Written: March 1, 2013
We propose that the evolution by sexual selection of the male propensity to engage in conspicuous consumption contributed to the emergence of modern rates of economic growth. We develop a model in which males engage in conspicuous consumption to send an honest signal of their quality to females. Females respond to the costly and honest signal, leading males who engage in conspicuous consumption to have higher reproductive success than those who do not, increasing the prevalence of signalling males in the population. As males fund conspicuous consumption through participation in the labour force, an increase in the prevalence of signalling males gives rise to an increase in economic activity that leads to economic growth.
Keywords: conspicuous consumption, sexual selection, human evolution, economic growth
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