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Understanding Economic Change
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Book description

Although the economy has always been changing, ever more innovations now seem to accelerate the transformation process. Are there any laws governing the incessant global change? Does it accord with our intentions and desires and make us happier? Do our institutions and our democracies cope with the challenges? How does economic theory explain what is going on? In this volume, experts in the field discuss the advances that evolutionary economics has made in exploring questions like these. The broad range of topics include a review of the development of the field: its conceptual and methodological characteristics are outlined; problems posed by macroeconomic evolution and the institutional challenges are highlighted; and, last but not least, the implications of the evolution of the economy for wellbeing and sustainability are addressed. Taken together, the contributions demonstrate the potential of an evolutionary paradigm for making sense of economic change and for assessing its consequences.


‘This welcome collection of essays offers a rich perspective on the history and philosophy of evolutionary economics. It delves deep into core themes such as generalized Darwinism, institutions and bounded rationality, long-run economic development and evolutionary welfare theory, while also offering original applications to land use conflicts and unsustainable consumption.'

Jeroen van den Bergh - ICREA Research Professor, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

‘As Ulrich Witt and Andreas Chai put it in their introduction, it is time for some stocktaking concerning progress in evolutionary economics. This excellent collection of essays performs that task admirably: a number of leading authors review developments in the field with erudition and careful criticism. This is a milestone volume.'

Geoffrey M. Hodgson - University of Hertfordshire

‘Evolutionary economics is in transition following a very productive and enlightening era when Nelson and Winter's ‘replicator dynamics' perspective was its reference point. The past decade has witnessed the rise of competing perspectives such as: rule based complex systems; game theoretical micro-foundations; general Darwinian theory; socio-biological models, where biology is not just used as an analogy. Although there is general agreement that economic evolution should be modelled, explicitly, as a historical process, methodological differences have become more marked. In this volume a very prominent set of contributors explain their different positions. The result is a very interesting and stimulating set of essays that are well-written and accessible to both evolutionary and mainstream economists and their students. Anyone who wishes to know what the key issues and debates are in evolutionary economics today need look no further than this excellent volume.'

John Foster - University of Queensland

‘More than one century after Thorsten Veblen coined the label evolutionary economics there is still no consensus on what constitutes the core of an evolutionary approach in economics. This volume will be welcome by readers interested in learning about the current state of the field and its prospective development. The essays collected represent the principal versions of evolutionary thinking in contemporary economics, covering methodological, theoretical and normative issues. The editors' Introduction provides helpful guidance in tracing the history of the field, placing the collected essays into a broader context and pointing to prospects for theoretical convergence and integration.'

Viktor J. Vanberg - University of Freiburg, Germany

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