Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 289–317 | Cite as

Coevolution of economic behaviour and institutions: towards a theory of institutional change

  • Jeroen C. J. M. van den Bergh
  • Sigrid Stagl
Original Paper


Traditionally, economics has regarded institutions, notably norms and regulations, as fixed or exogenous. Surprisingly few insights on institutional evolution from natural and social sciences have made their way into economics. This article gives an overview of evolutionary theories of institutions in biology, sociology, anthropology and economics. These theories are subsequently compared with non-evolutionary theories of institutions. Next, the insights and approaches are integrated into a framework for analysis of institutions based on the notion of coevolution.


Altruism Cooperation Culture Dual inheritance Evolutionary psychology Group selection Norms Social psychology Sociobiology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeroen C. J. M. van den Bergh
    • 1
  • Sigrid Stagl
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Economics and Business Administration and Institute for Environmental StudiesFree UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.School of the EnvironmentUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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