Bioeconomics and the survival model: The economic lessons of evolutionary biology

  • Stephen P. Magee


Public choice has made important strides in the last 25 years. The rational choice model, however, has left some important unanswered questions, such as why people vote. Since this paper is about the next 25 years of public choice, I propose an alternative to the old rational choice model. I propose that “rational choice” be replaced with a “survivor model” of biology, which incorporates rational choice as a special case. The survival model includes all behavior, both cognitive and non cognitive, which improves economic fitness. It incorporates, for example, genetics, hormones and environmentally driven behavior.


Public Choice Rational Choice Group Selection Directional Selection Dominance Hierarchy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alchian, A.A. (1950). Uncertainty, evolution and economic theory. Journal of Political Economy 58: 211–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker, J. and Allen, G. (1982). Study of biology, 4th ed. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  3. Battalio, R.C., Kagel, J.H. and MacDonald, D.N. (1985). Animals’ choices over uncertain outcomes: Some initial experimental results. American Economic Review 75 (4): 597–613.Google Scholar
  4. Becker, G.S. (1976). Altruism, egoism, and genetic fitness: Economics and sociobiology. Journal of Economic Literature 14 (3): 817–826.Google Scholar
  5. Darwin, C. (1859). The origin of species. New York: Penguin reprint, 1979.Google Scholar
  6. Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Macropaedia. (1991a). Darwin. 16: 978.Google Scholar
  8. Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Macropaedia. (1991b). Evolution. 18: 855.Google Scholar
  9. Gould, S.J. (1983). Hen’s teeth and horses toes. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  10. Harlow, V.W. (1988). Economic preferences and risk aversion. Mimeo. Department of Finance, University of Arizona, Tucson.Google Scholar
  11. Henderson, B.D. (1989). The origin of strategy. Harvard Business Review 67 (6): 139–143.Google Scholar
  12. Hirshleifer, J. (1977). Economics from a biological viewpoint. Journal of Law and Economics 20: 1–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hirschleifer, J. (1978). Natural economy versus political economy. Journal of Social Biological Structures 1: 319–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lopreado. J. (1984). Human nature and biocultural evolution. Boston: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  15. MacArthur, R.H. and Wilson, E.O. (1967). The theory of island biogeography. Monographs in Population Biology. no. 1. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Magee, S.P. (1984). Bioeconomics: A theory of economic selection. Unpublished manuscript, 10 chapters. University of Texas at Austin.Google Scholar
  17. Magee, S.P. (1992). The optimum number of lawyers: A reply to Epp. Law and Social Inquiry 17 (4): 667–693.Google Scholar
  18. Magee, S.P. and Magee, F.T. (1994). The invisible foot and the waste of nations: Lawyers vs. the U.S. economy. New York: Warner Books, forthcoming.Google Scholar
  19. Magee, S.P., W.A. Brock and L. Young (1989). Black hole tariffs and endogenous policy theory: Political economy in general equilibrium. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Nelson, R.R. and S.G. Winter (1973). Toward an evolutionary theory of economic capabilities. American Economic Review 63 (2): 440–450.Google Scholar
  21. Olson, M. (1982). The rise and decline of nations. New Haven: Yale.Google Scholar
  22. Rogers, A. (1992, October). Evolution of time preference by natural selection. Mimeo. Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.Google Scholar
  23. Rothschild, M.L. (1992). Bionomics: The inevitability of capitalism. London: Futura Books.Google Scholar
  24. Simon, H.A. (1962). The architecture of complexity. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 106 (6): 467–482.Google Scholar
  25. Smith, V.L. (1992). Economic principles in the emergence of mankind. Economic Inquiry 30: 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Trivers, R.L. (1971). The evolution of reciprocal altruism. Quarterly Review of Biology 46: 35–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tullock, G. (1990a). The economics of (very) primitive societies. Journal of Social and Biological Structures 13 (2): 151–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tullock, G. (1990b). Hawks, doves and free riders. Discussion Paper 90–35. Department of Economics, University of Arizona, June.Google Scholar
  29. Ursprung, H.W. (1988). Evolution and the economic approach to human behavior. Journal of Social and Biological Structures 11: 257–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Vehrencamp, S.L. (1983). A model for the evolution of despotic vs egalitarian societies. Animal Behavior 31: 667–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wellborn, S.N. (1987). How genes shape personality. US News and World Report 102 (14): 58–62.Google Scholar
  32. Wilson, E.O. (1975). Sociobiology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Wittenberger, J.F. (1981). Animal social behavior. Boston: Duxbury Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen P. Magee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of FinanceUniversity of TexasAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations