Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Dead men tell no tales: how the Homo sapiens became Homo economicus

Zakharenko, Roman (2018): Dead men tell no tales: how the Homo sapiens became Homo economicus.

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Abstract

The paper explains long-term changes in birth, death rates and attitude to personal consumption by changing patterns of cultural transmission. When communities are culturally isolated, they are focused on population growth, resulting in large fertility and welfare transfers to children, limited adult consumption and lack of old-age support. With increasing cultural contact across communities, successful cultural traits induce their hosts to attempt becoming celebrities by limiting fertility and increasing longevity via higher consumption and old-age arrangements. Empirical analysis confirms that celebrities have fewer children and live longer; their presence precedes reduced aggregate birth and death rates.

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