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The Origin of Utility : Sexual Selection and Conspicuous Consumption


De Fraja, Gianni


Bitte beziehen Sie sich beim Zitieren dieses Dokumentes immer auf folgenden Persistent Identifier (PID):http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-309428

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Abstract This paper proposes an explanation for the universal human desire for increasing consumption and the associated propensity to trade survival opportunity off conspicuous consumption. I argue that this desire was moulded in evolutionary times by a mechanism known to biologists as sexual selection, whereby an observable trait — conspicuous consumption in this case — is used by members of one sex to signal their unobservable characteristics valuable to members of the opposite sex. It then shows 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, and thus establishes a rigorous theoretical foundation for including conspicuous consumption in the utility function.
Thesaurusschlagwörter evolution
Klassifikation Allgemeines, spezielle Theorien und "Schulen", Methoden, Entwicklung und Geschichte der Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Freie Schlagwörter Natural selection; Utility; Darwin; Conspicuous Consumption; Veblen; Sexual selection
Sprache Dokument Englisch
Publikationsjahr 2009
Seitenangabe S. 51-69
Zeitschriftentitel Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 72 (2009) 1
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2009.05.019
Status Postprint; begutachtet (peer reviewed)
Lizenz PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)