ABSTRACT

This chapter examines how well two parallel behavioural approaches, one in economics and the other in anthropology, explain the economic evolution of Neolithic societies, particularly their transit from foraging to agriculture. Both assume rational optimizing economic behaviour. Alternative possible models of this transition are presented. One takes account of the sharing of output by social groups. The other is based on satisficing rather than optimizing behaviour. The implications of these models are compared. Moreover, it is argued that behavioural theories considering the relationship between human behaviour and economic evolution need to pay attention to the way that decision-making is embedded in social structures. It is unlikely that a single theory will be able to explain the economic evolution of all societies when social structures and other relevant variables differ between communities.