Evolution has transformed all we know about how humans behave, compete and co-operate. When will economics catch up?
In 2008, as it was becoming clear that a once-in-a-generation financial crisis was upon us, a friend of mine who is a senior corporate executive asked me a peculiar question. Might evolutionary theory have something to say about what caused the crisis? Those of us who labour away in the biological sciences are unaccustomed to fielding questions from corporate executives, but I had founded a think tank called the Evolution Institute and my friend was an early supporter. These were desperate times; the financial crisis had exposed grave weaknesses in our basic understanding of economic systems. The reigning theoretical paradigms in economics had run out of credibility, having, at best, failed to predict the crisis and, at worst, helped to exacerbate it. Could evolutionary theory do better?