Industrial Revolution Linked to Evolution. (Economics)

Article excerpt

It took an evolutionary leap in the human species to help trigger the change from centuries of economic stagnation to a state of sustained economic growth, according to the first theory that integrates evolutionary biology and economics. "Until now, economic growth theory did not have implications for evolutionary biology, and evolutionary biology did not have implications for economic growth," maintains Oded Galor, professor of economics, Brown University, Providence, R.I., who co-authored this new theory with Omer Moav of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "The struggle for survival that had characterized most of human existence stimulated a process of natural selection and generated an evolutionary advantage to human traits that were complementary to the growth process, triggering the takeoff from an epoch of stagnation to sustained economic growth," they note.

The evolution of the human brain in the transition to Homo sapiens "increased the evolutionarily optimal investment in offspring's quality," asserts Galor. "This was due to the complementary relationship between brain capacity and the return to investment in human capital." The process gave an evolutionary advantage to people who had higher valuation toward offspring's quality. "The subsequently increased prevalence of this genetic trait in the population ultimately permitted the Industrial Revolution to trigger a transition to a state of sustained economic growth."

The critical natural selection that occurred prior to the Industrial Revolution involved the fundamental tradeoff between child-caring and child-rearing. …