On Market Forces and Human Evolution

47 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2003

See all articles by Gilles Saint-Paul

Gilles Saint-Paul

University of Toulouse I - GREMAQ-IDEI; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Date Written: November 2002

Abstract

This Paper studies how an institution such as markets affects the evolution of mankind. My key point is that the forces of natural selection are made weaker because trade allows people to specialize in those activities where they are strong, and to offset their weaknesses by purchasing adequate goods on the market. Absent trade, people must allocate their time among all the activities necessary for their fitness. A fitness advantage in any given dimension will increase survival probability, so that in the long run natural selection makes sure that population is entirely made of individuals with the best alleles at all locations. Under trade, there exist long-run equilibria where less fit individuals are able to achieve the same survival potential as the fittest, by specializing in activities where they are not at a disadvantage, and purchasing goods that are substitute for activities in which they are 'weak'.

Keywords: Evolution, genotype, division of labour, specialization, geneculture coevolution, natural selection, trade, exchange, markets, time allocation

JEL Classification: J10, J22

Suggested Citation

Saint-Paul, Gilles, On Market Forces and Human Evolution (November 2002). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 3654. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=366682

Gilles Saint-Paul (Contact Author)

University of Toulouse I - GREMAQ-IDEI ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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