I teach economics in the Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the Toulouse School of Economics and have lived in the centre of the city of Toulouse in France since 2000. I was Director from 2012 to 2021 of the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST) of which I remain a member. From October 2021 to September 2023 I held a Two-Year Fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford.
I did undergraduate and doctoral studies at the University of Oxford, where I was a Fellow of All Souls College, then taught at the University of Cambridge where I was a Fellow of Churchill College. I have also held part-time teaching positions at the College of Europe in Bruges and at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris.
My research lies in the areas of microeonomic theory, industrial and competition policy, intellectual property and the digital society, development economics, economics and human evolution, the economics of gender, the economics of religion. A common theme to these apparently chaotically diverse topics is the foundations of human cooperation and social trust: I examine in particular the way in which our prehistorically evolved psychology interacts with modern institutions to make social cooperation possible.
I have done field research in many countries around the world, including Cameroon, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, Hungary, India, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and Sri Lanka.
My forthcoming book The Divine Economy: How Religions Compete for Wealth, Power and People, which will be published by Princeton University Press in May 2024, brings together my interests in industrial economics (specifically the economics of platforms) and my fascination for behavioural and evolutionary economics. Two earlier books published by PUP, The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life (2010) and The War of the Sexes: How Conflict and Cooperation Have Shaped Men and Women from Prehistory to the Present (2012) also explored the confrontation of a psychology shaped by evolution with modern social and economic institutions.
I am a Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research, London, and of the European Economic Association. I was formerly a member of the Economic Advisory Group on Competition Policy at DG-Competition of the European Commission, and a member (and later chair) of the Scientific Council of the think-tank BRUEGEL. From 2005 to 2019 I was an almost annual visitor at the Santa Fe Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico.