Fortnightly logo

An Evolutionary View of the Economics of the Family

Can our evolutionary history help us to understand modern families? Many of the fundamental issues related to parental affection, parent-offspring conflict, nepotism, sibling rivalry, cooperation, and conflict between the sexes have deep evolutionary roots. Though technology has drastically changed, the problems faced may remain remarkably similar to those that were faced by our human ancestors and that continue to be encountered by other animals. In his Athenaeum lecture, Professor Ted Bergstrom will offer his insights into how evolutionary biology can contribute to understanding economic and social relations within families, and will suggest some ways in which modern economics and game theory can assist biologists in thinking about evolution.

Professor Bergstrom earned his undergraduate degree from Carleton College and his Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University. He is currently professor at the University of Santa Barbara, where he occupies the Aaron and Cherie Raznick Chair in Economics.

Professor Bergstrom's primary research interests include game theory, economics of the family, experimental economics, and exploring the connections between evolutionary biology and economics. His published papers on the economics include "Does Mother Nature Punish Rotten Kids?" (2001), "On the Evolution of Altruistic Ethical Rules for Siblings" (1995), "Courtship as a Waiting Game" (1991), and "Love and Spaghetti." (1989)

Bergstrom's Athenaeum lecture is sponsored by the Berger Institute for Work, Family, and Children.