Human Evolution and Development

Galor Oded and Omer Moav, "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117, 1133-1192 (November 2002)

  • Discussion by Joel Mokyr, AEA 2002
  • Emerging Research Fronts, Web of Science, 2006
  • Gene Expression, 2007
  • Science Daily, 2002
  • Discussion by Robert Aumann, 2010 (video)
  • Gene Expression, 2011
  • Evolving Economics, 2011
  • "Did We Evolve the Capacity for Sustained Growth?" The Growth Economics Blog, 2015


  • Galor Oded and Omer Moav, "The Neolithic Origins of Contemporary Variation in Life Expectancy", 2007

    Galor Oded and Omer Moav, "Natural Selection and the Evolution of Life Expectancy", 2004

  • Evolving Economics, October 2013
  • Gene Expression


  • Galor Oded and Stelios Michalopoulos, "Evolution and the Growth Process: Natural Selection of Entrepreneurial Traits," Journal of Economic Theory, 147 (2), 759-780 (March 2012).

  • Evolving Economics

  • Galor Oded and Marc Klemp, "The Biocultural Origins of Human Capital Formation" (Revised: May 2015)

  • "The Biocultural Origins of Human Capital Formation and Economic Growth" Naked Capitalism
  • "Low Birth Rates: Evolution of Choice?" Zeeconomics
  • "Did We Evolve the Capacity for Sustained Growth?" The Growth Economics Blog


  • Overview


    This research develops an evolutionary growth theory about the interplay between the evolution of mankind and economic growth since the emergence of the Homo sapiens. For the major part of human existence mankind was engaged in a persistent struggle for existence. Diminishing returns to labor, along with a positive effect of the standard of living on population growth, held income per capita near subsistence level. Improvements to the technological environment or in the availability of land led to larger but not wealthier populations.

    This pressure to adapt to changing environments, conceivably affected the composition of the population as well. Over time, lineages of individuals whose characteristics were complementary to the changing technological environment gained an evolutionary advantage. They generated higher income, devoted more resources to child rearing, and their fraction within the population gradually rose.

    The Agricultural Revolution and the establishment of individual, rather than tribal, property rights expedited the selection process and gradually increased the representation of traits that were complementary to the growth process (e.g., entrepreneurial spirit, higher life expectancy, preference for child quality). It triggered a positive feedback between technological progress and education and ultimately brought about the Industrial Revolution and a period of sustained economic growth.

    Moreover, contrary to theories that reject a possible role for human genetics in influencing economic development, some of this research demonstrates the importance of genetic factors by highlighting the effects of diversity in genetic traits, while abstaining entirely from conceptual frameworks that posit a hierarchy of such traits in terms of their conduciveness to the process of economic development.