Arthur Robson's Home Page
Other recent photos and links
Professor Arthur J. Robson
Research Chair in Economic Theory and Evolution
Department of Economics
Simon Fraser University
CANADA V5A 1S6
Phone: (778) 782-4669
Fax: (778) 782-5944
at sfu dot ca
A pdf file chock-a-block with
I have been persuaded for about 20 years by the idea that a
strong light can be shed on modern human economic behavior by
considering its biological and anthropological basis. I wanted
to otherwise stick to the usual theoretical methodology in
carrying out this program. Research on this topic definitely
wasn't short-run career optimizing, but it has been, and still
is, tremendous fun to do something new. It is also
encouraging that recently there has been an increase in
acceptance of this approach from the discipline at large.
There is a vast amount of
ground-breaking work to be done in this vein, with the promise
of generating powerful insights into basic real
phenomena. The following are two public lectures on the evolution of
Oxford, June 24, 2011
most complete treatment is The Evolutionary
Foundations of Preferences" (with Larry Samuelson) in Handbook of Social Economics. This
is also the most formal of these sources, but we worked on the
Oxford, June 16, 2011
Also of interest might still be
two recent workshops on these issues-.
SFU, Vancouver, April 18-20,
SFU, Vancouver, May 14-16,
And here is the program for a
conference at the Becker Friedman Institute at the
University of Chicago. This link features pdf's and videos
for many of the talks-
Chicago, May 4-5, 2012
I am very grateful to the BFI for
Finally, here are the slides for a mini-course on this topic
that I gave at New York University in February, 2013. An
earlier version of this course was given at the Toulouse
School of Economics in January, 2013.
Published and Forthcoming Papers Since 1990
of my papers on topics related to the biological basis of
economics are included in the list below, with other papers on
topics such as game theory. Many of the forthcoming
papers and working papers are available as PDF files.
Most of the later published papers below have abstracts
Uniqueness of Endogenous Strategic Timing,'' Canadian
Journal of Economics 22 (1990), 917-921.
- "Stackelberg and Marshall," American
Economic Review 80 (1990), 69-82.
Stackelberg Regained," International
Economic Review 31 (1990), 263-274.
Nash and the Secret Handshake", Journal of Theoretical
Biology 144 (1990), 379-396.
- "Subgame Perfect Equilibrium in
Continuous Games of Perfect Information: An Elementary
Approach to Existence and to Approximation by Discrete
Games" (with Martin Hellwig,
Wolfgang Leininger and Phil Reny), Journal of Economic
Theory 52 (1990), 406-422.
to Evolutionary Game Theory: Secret Handshakes, Sucker
Punches and Efficiency", in Recent Developments in Game
Theory, ed. by J. Creedy,
J. Borland and J. Eichberger,
1992, Edward Elgar: Aldershot,
Econometrica 60 (1992),
Equilibrium' for Two-Person Nonzero Sum Games,'' Games
and Economic Behavior 7 (1994), 233-245.
of Strategic Behavior", Canadian Journal of Economics
28 (1995), 17-41.
of Subgame-Perfect Equilibrium
in Continuous Games with Almost Perfect Information: A Case
for Public Randomization,'' (with Chris Harris and Phil Reny), Econometrica
63 (1995), 507-544.
Evolution of Attitudes to Risk: Lottery Tickets and
Relative Wealth", Games and Economic Behavior
14 (1996), 190-207.
Biological Basis for Expected and Non-Expected Utility",
Journal of Economic Theory 68 (1996), 397-424.
Equilibrium Selection in Evolutionary Games with Random
Matching", (with Fernando Vega-Redondo), Journal
of Economic Theory 70 (1996), 65-92.
Growth-Maximizing Distribution of Income", (with Myrna
Economic Review, 38 (1997), 511-526.
Behavior and the Observability
of Gambles", Games and Economic Behavior 24
Induction, Public Randomization and Admissibility"
(with Srihari Govindan), Journal of Economic
Theory 82 (1998), 451-457.
Sexual and Asexual Reproduction in Variable Environments"
(with Carl Bergstrom and Jonathan Pritchard), Journal of
Theoretical Biology 197 (1999), 541-556.
Basis of Economic Behavior,'' Journal of Economic
Literature, 29 (2001), 11-33.
Would Nature Give Individuals Utility Functions?" Journal
Political Economy, 109 (2001), 900-914.
Human Nature," Journal of Economic Perspectives 16
89-106. (Also "Comments" Journal of
Economic Perspectives 17 (2003), 207-212.)
Humans: The Coevolution of
Intelligence and Longevity with Intergenerational
Transfers,'' (with Hillard
Kaplan) Proceedings of the National
Sciences of the USA 99 (2002), 10221-10226.
- "Existence of Subgame Perfect Equilibrium with
Public Randomization: A Short Proof,'' (with Phil Reny), Economics Bulletin
Vol. 3, No. 24 (2002), 1-8.
of Human Longevity and Intelligence in Hunter-Gatherer
Economies," (with Hillard
Kaplan) American Economic Review 93 (2003),
Evolution of Intelligence and the Red Queen,"
Journal of Economic Theory 111 (2003), 1-22.
Selection and Cooperation'' (with Philippe Gregoire) International Game
Theory Review 5 (2003), 229-248.
and the Evolutionary Economics of the Human Lifespan''
(with Hillard Kaplan and Jane
Lancaster) Population and Development Review 29
Supplement (2003), 152-182.
Short Proof of the Harsanyi
Purification Theorem," (with Phil Reny and Hari
Govindan), Games and
Economic Behavior (special issue in memory of Bob
Rosenthal), 45 (2003), 369-374.
Equilibria: A Unification of
the Classical and Bayesian Views,'' (with Phil Reny) Games and Economic
Behavior 48 (2004), 355-384.
and the Red Queen", Economic Journal Symposium
as Complex Adaptive Systems," 115 (2005) F211-F224.
of Hunter-Gatherer Societies and the Evolution of Human
Characteristics," (with Hillard Kaplan), Canadian Journal of Economics,
39 (2006), 375-398.
- "Why Do We Die? Economics, Biology, and
Aging," (with Hillard Kaplan) American
Economic Review P&P 97 (2007), 492-495. (See
also supplementary online material.)
- "The Evolution of Intertemporal
Preferences" (with Larry Samuelson), American Economic Review
P&P 97 (2007), 496-500.
- "The Effect of Food Intake on Longevity"
(with Tieman Woutersen) Economics Bulletin 26 (2007), 1-11.
of Diet, Brain and Life History among Primates and Humans"
(with Hillard Kaplan, Steven Gangestad, Jane Lancaster, and
Michael Gurven) In Guts,
Brains, Food and the Social Life of Early Hominids. Leiden: University of
Leiden Press, 2007, pp. 47-90.
The New Palgrave: A
Dictionary of Economics, Second Edition, Palgrave,
of Time Preference by Natural Selection: Comment'' (with Balázs Szentes) American
Economic Review 98 (2008), 1178-1188. (See also
online material "An Extended Example".)
Making and the Evolutionary Roots of Institutions"
(with Richard McElreath, Robert Boyd, Gerd Gigerenzer,
Andreas Glöckner, Peter Hammerstein, Robert Kurzban, Stefan
Magen, Peter J. Richerson, and Jeffrey R. Stevens) In Better Than Conscious?
Decision Making, the Human Mind, and Implications For
Institutions Edited by Christoph Engel and Wolf
Singer, MIT Press, 2008, pp. 325-342.
Age Because We Grow" (with Hillard
of the Royal Society: Series B: Biological Sciences,
2009, 1837-1844 (with Mathematical
- "The Evolution of Time
Preference with Aggregate Uncertainty" (with Larry
Samuelson) American Economic
Review, 99 (2009), 1925–53.
- "A Bioeconomic
View of the Neolithic Transition to Agriculture" Canadian Journal of Economics,
43 (2010), 280-300.
- "The Evolutionary
Foundations of Preferences" (with Larry Samuelson) In
Handbook of Social
Economics. Edited by Alberto Bisin and Matt
Jackson, North-Holland, pp. 221-310.
- "The Evolutionary Optimality
of Decision and Experienced Utility" (with Larry Samuelson) Theoretical Economics 6
- "Status, Intertemporal
Choice, and Risk-Taking" (with Debraj Ray) Econometrica 80 (2012)
- "The Economic Approach to
Theory of Mind"
(with Nikolaus Robalino) Philosophical
Transactions of the Royal Society: Series B (2012)
367 1599 2224-2233.
- "The Evolutionary Basis of
Time Preference: Intergenerational Transfers and Sex"
(with Balázs Szentes and Emil Iantchev) American Economic Journal:
Microeconomics 4(4) (2012) 172-201.
(with Nikolaus Robalino) Biological
Theory (2013) 8, 151-57.
- "A Biological Theory of
Public Discounting" (with Balázs Szentes) American
Economic Review 104(11): 3481-97.
Recent Working Papers/Work in
Evolution of Theory of Mind: Theory and Experiments" (with
Erik Kimbrough and Nikolaus Robalino)
- "The Evolution of Strategic
and the Arguments of Utility" (with Luis Rayo)
Fast Adaptation of Utility" (with Lorne Whitehead)
British Columbia Gallery