Evolutionary Economics

Economic Approaches:

Key assumptions and aspects:

  • Main concern: Economic progress
  • Economies are made up of: Evolving and emerging populations and actors
  • Human beings are: Socio-historical actors who act on the basis of heuristics, routines and rules
  • Economies change through: Technological and social innovation
  • Favoured methods: Wide variety, from evolutionary game theory and regression analysis to network analysis and interviews
  • Typical policy recommendations: Facilitate and generate entrepreneurship and innovation

Since the 19th century, evolutionary thinking has had substantial impact on various economic thinkers such as Thorstein Veblen, Joseph Schumpeter, and Kenneth Boulding. More recently there have been attempts to create a more coherent intellectual school called evolutionary economics. Although the impact of evolutionary economics on the discipline has so far been quite limited, it is recognized as providing important contributions and is often considered to be one of the promising approaches for the future. It is argued that people adapt themselves to their natural but also social environment. Based on evolutionary principles such as variation, selection and replication, it tries to understand how markets, firms, and national economies develop.


  • Evolutionary Economics on Exploring Economics, from 2016. 
  • Economics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang, 2014, chapter 4.
  • The New Evolutionary Economics by Kurt Dopfer and Jason Potts, from 2014.
  • Elgar Companion to Neo-Schumpeterian Economics by Horst Hanusch & Andreas Pyka, from 2007.
  • Evolutionary and Neo-Schumpeterian Approaches to Economics by Lars Magnusson, from 1994.
  • A perspective on the evolution of evolutionary economics by Richard R. Nelson, from 2020. 
  • Economics and Evolution: Bringing Life Back into Economics by Geoffrey M. Hodgson, from 1993.