Population, Technological Progress and the Evolution of Innovative Potential



Abstract

We present an evolutionary theory of long-term economic growth in which technological progress and population growth are driven by the population size and the innovative potential of the people in the population. We expand on current theory proposing that population growth is proportional to population size, due to greater production of ideas, and submit that technological progress and population growth are also driven by the accelerating evolution of people with a higher innovative potential. As a larger population implies a larger number of mutations, population growth will increase the rate at which innovation-enhancing traits may emerge. Heritable traits that increase idea development or productivity increase the fitness of the bearer, increase in frequency in the population, and drive technological progress. This dual-driver model of economic growth has a sharper acceleration in population growth and greater robustness to technological shocks than a model without human evolution. We also show that as the population size increases, increases in population size become a relatively more important driver of the acceleration of technological progress than further increases in innovative potential.

Key Words

technological progress, human evolution, population growth, innovation


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