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Complexity and EvolutionToward a New Synthesis for Economics$
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David S Wilson and Alan Kirman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035385

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035385.001.0001

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Challenges of Integrating Complexity and Evolution into Economics

Challenges of Integrating Complexity and Evolution into Economics

Chapter:
(p.65) 5 Challenges of Integrating Complexity and Evolution into Economics
Source:
Complexity and Evolution
Author(s):

Robert Axtell

Alan Kirman

Iain D. Couzin

Daniel Fricke

Thorsten Hens

Michael E. Hochberg

John E. Mayfield

Peter Schuster

Rajiv Sethi

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262035385.003.0005

Complex systems theory and evolutionary theory hold important insight for economics, yet to date they have played a limited role in shaping modern economic theory. This chapter reviews different notions of equilibrium and explores four distinct areas relevant to the incorporation of evolutionary and complexity ideas into economics, finance, and policy. It investigates the determinants of major economic transitions, such as the Industrial Revolution or the collapse of the Soviet Union. It asks whether evolutionary processes should lead to an increase in complexity, on average, of economic and social systems over time. It reviews modern theories of group learning in biology, which have both evolutionary and complexity dimensions, to see if they might be relevant to human social institutions, such as firms. It analyzes whether the structure of human interactions or individual human intelligence is primarily responsible for the performance of our institutions. Finally, it finds that methods of evolutionary analysis and of complex systems to be extremely useful in capturing the open-ended, evolving nature of an economy composed of interactive agents and suggests that these methods be used to create to more realistic models of actual markets and economies.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, complex systems theory, economics, equilibrium, evolutionary theory, group learning, major economic transitions

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