Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

* Article: An evolutionary theory of resource distribution. By Blair Fix. real-world economics review, issue no. 90

URL = http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue90/whole90.pdf

On the tension between two levels of natural selection.

  • At the group level, selfless behavior is advantageous.
  • But at the individual level, selfish behavior is advantageous

Abstract

"This paper explores how the evolution of human sociality can help us understand how we distribute resources. Using ideas from sociobiology, I argue that resource distribution is marked by a tension between two levels of natural selection. At the group level, selfless behavior is advantageous. But at the individual level, selfish behavior is advantageous. I explore how this tension affects the distribution of resources."

Contents

Blair Fix:

"This paper offers a sketch of what an evolutionary theory of resource distribution might look like, and what its basic principles should be.

In Part I, I discuss how the evolution of human sociality relates to resource distribution. I argue that resource distribution is marked by a tension between two levels of natural selection. At the group level, selfless behavior is advantageous. But at the individual level, selfish behavior is advantageous. Resource distribution, then, is driven by a tension between competition and cooperation. Groups compete for resources with each other (often violently), but suppress competition internally.

In Part II, I look at the building block of groups – the human relation. To cooperate, humans form bonds with each other. Often, these bonds are asymmetric, meaning one person has more power than the other. When this happens, the person with more power can use their influence to get a bigger share of the resource pie. The result, I argue, is that when groups use power relations to organize, the “power ethos” will prevail: to each according to their social influence.

In Part III, I look for evidence for the power ethos inside modern firms. I show that the income of US CEOs tends to increase with “hierarchical power” (control over subordinates within the firm). Case-study evidence suggests that the same is true for all employees within firms. Given these results, I argue that it is time to treat income as a social phenomenon, and to ground the study of income distribution in an evolutionary framework." (http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue90/Fix90.pdf)