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Journal of Bioeconomics

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 109–135 | Cite as

What Makes Humans Economically Distinctive? A Three-Species Evolutionary Comparison and Historical Analysis

  • Christopher Boehm
Article

Abstract

The fundamental problem, of what makes humans economically distinctive, is addressed here by using a highly focused cross-species analysis to examine the evolution of property relations. Chimpanzees and bonobos are compared with mobile human foragers, and it is argued that our egalitarian political practices, in conjunction with variance-reduction practices we applied prehistorically to large-game meat consumption, led to a critical evolutionary transformation. The transition began with private property at the ancestral level, but ended with humans having not only private property, but communal property.

bonobos chimpanzees communal property egalitarianism hunter–gatherers private property social control social evolution variance reduction 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Boehm
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Anthropology and Biological Sciences, Jane Goodall Research CenterUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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