nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2006‒11‒04
two papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
US Naval Academy, USA

  1. The Origin of Utility By De Fraja, Gianni
  2. Selection matters By Paolo Pin

  1. By: De Fraja, Gianni
    Abstract: This paper proposes an explanation for the universal human desire for increasing consumption. It holds that it was moulded in evolutionary times by a mechanism known to biologists as sexual selection, whereby a certain trait - observable consumption - is used by members of one sex to signal their unobservable characteristics valuable to members of the opposite sex. It then goes on to show that the standard economics problem of utility maximisation is formally equivalent to the standard biology problem of the maximisation of individual fitness, the ability to pass genes to future generations.
    Keywords: Darwin; natural selection; sexual selection; utility
    JEL: D63 I28
    Date: 2006–10
  2. By: Paolo Pin (Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Venice)
    Abstract: To test for the adaptive optimization of risk attitudes, we use a simple model of preferences among lotteries, where agents evolve with a Genetic Algorithm. We find that the genetic selection operator are fundamental in determining the outcomes of the simulations, along with the possibility of iterate choices in a single generation and an eventual factor of heritage across generations (all innocuous technical parameters at a first sight). Different choices of these mechanisms may easily lead to opposite behaviors, from risk aversion to even risk love. The simulations give a hint on the possible implications of the different selection operators, when trying to model the evolution of risk attitudes in different social and economic settings.
    Keywords: Risk preferences, genetic algorithm
    JEL: C61 D81
    Date: 2006–09

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