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Understanding the demand-side of economic change: a contribution to formal evolutionary theorizing

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An outstanding fact of capitalist change in the last few centuries is the ongoing emergence of new consumption alternatives which accompany income and productivity growth in expanding economies. Far from satiating consumers, exponential economic growth seems to stimulate human desires by providing novelty and variety embodied in a persuasive flow of unsettling goods. Although this is a well-known fact characteristic of capitalist change, little attention has been paid by modern growth theorists to the understanding of demand-side phenomena related to the increasing significance of consumption activities in our societies. Against this background, in this article, we show that as soon as we start drawing the demand-side contour of economic change, new phenomena appear which enrich our understanding of economic growth and structural change. By using 'replicator dynamics' systems, consumption dynamics are formally linked to the ongoing generation of innovations in capitalist economies. Certain emergent properties concerning economic growth and structural change and several policy implications follow.

Keywords: Consumption; Economic growth; Evolutionary economics; Innovation

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-12-01

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