nep-cul New Economics Papers
on Cultural Economics
Issue of 2019‒01‒28
five papers chosen by
Roberto Zanola
Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

  1. Does Scientific Progress Affect Culture? A Digital Text Analysis By Michela Giorcelli; Nicola Lacetera; Astrid Marinoni
  2. Selling Out: The Financialization of Contemporary Art By Hannah Rose Emmert
  3. Historical Analysis of National Subjective Wellbeing using millions of Digitized Books By Hills, Thomas; Proto, Eugenio; Sgroi, Daniel
  4. The Role of Culture and Communication in the Socialization Process By Samuiel Balc
  5. Folklore By Stelios Michalopoulos; Melanie Meng Xue

  1. By: Michela Giorcelli; Nicola Lacetera; Astrid Marinoni
    Abstract: We study the interplay between scientific progress and culture through text analysis on a corpus of about eight million books, with the use of techniques and algorithms from machine learning. We focus on a specific scientific breakthrough, the theory of evolution through natural selection by Charles Darwin, and examine the diffusion of certain key concepts that characterized this theory in the broader cultural discourse and social imaginary. We find that some concepts in Darwin’s theory, such as Evolution, Survival, Natural Selection and Competition diffused in the cultural discourse immediately after the publication of On the Origins of Species. Other concepts such as Selection and Adaptation were already present in the cultural dialogue. Moreover, we document semantic changes for most of these concepts over time. Our findings thus show a complex relation between two key factors of long-term economic growth – science and culture. Considering the evolution of these two factors jointly can offer new insights to the study of the determinants of economic development, and machine learning is a promising tool to explore these relationships.
    JEL: N00 O30 Z1
    Date: 2019–01
  2. By: Hannah Rose Emmert (The New School, Undergraduate Department of Economics)
    Abstract: This project came out of a behavioral economics class I took in 2016. Behavioral economics is the synthesis of human psychology and the more formulaic aspects of economics. I used this discipline as a lens for looking at how the financial services industry exploited the contemporary art market with it’s lack of regulation and transparency. My aim is to show the various ways this drastic financialization has happened by discussing the various heuristics used to value art and the financial instruments that financialized contemporary art mimics. Furthermore, I have found evidence that art is being used as collateral for important assets such as pension funds. The fact that art is volatile and unregulated makes art an unreliable investment and certainly not stable enough to base pension fund values on. This is the beginning of future research that I plan to conduct in an attempt to predict the eminent collapse of these contemporary art financial instruments. I hope to present this paper outline to book publishers to elaborate my findings into a book for industry professionals.
    Keywords: art market, art investments, financialization, art indexes, art trade, art auction valuation, art as capital, art as collateral, contemporary art, art-loans, heuristics, scarcity, confidence, herd mentality, bounded rationality
    Date: 2018–11
  3. By: Hills, Thomas (Department of Psychology, University of Warwick); Proto, Eugenio (Department of Economics, University of Warwick, CAGE and IZA); Sgroi, Daniel (Department of Economics, University of Warwick, CAGE and Nuffield College, University of Oxford)
    Abstract: We develop a new way to measure national subjective well-being across the very long run where traditional survey data on well-being is not available. Our method is based on quantitative analysis of digitized text from millions of books published over the past 200 years, long before the widespread availability of consistent survey data. The method uses psychological valence norms for thousands of words in different languages to compute the relative proportion of positive and negative language for four different nations (the USA, UK, Germany and Italy). We validate our measure against existing survey data from the 1970s onwards (when such data became available) showing that our measure is highly correlated with surveyed life satisfaction. We also validate our measure against historical trends in longevity and GDP (showing a positive relationship) and conflict (showing a negative relationship). Our measure allows a first look at changes in subjective well-being over the past two centuries, for instance highlighting the dramatic fall in well-being during the two World Wars and rise in relation to longevity.
    Keywords: historical subjective well-being ; language ; big data ; GDP ; conflict
    JEL: N3 N4 O1 D6
    Date: 2019
  4. By: Samuiel Balc (Theological Baptist Institute Bucharest, Romania)
    Abstract: Given that people's behavioral patterns are so diverse, there is an unconscious tendency on the part of many to reject such behaviors. To avoid such situations, we need to know the importance of the social dimension of communication that is based on two fundamental factors: One factor is that each person is born in a particular culture with its perspective, its way of thinking and action. The second factor is that each person is born in a particular society, a community that has certain expectations of its members, certain modes of interaction, etc. Consequently, in order to understand the behavioral patterns of a community and to integrate within the community, particular attention must be paid to both culture and communication. At the same time, it must be established that socialization requires understanding and acceptance of changes that need to be made, recognizing that this requires time. Those who share a common culture are a society, a community. Each generation of a particular society receives the culture of society, the community of the previous generation, enriches it, and transmits it to the next generation. Therefore, one can say that a culture is not static but constantly changing. Thus, to communicate effectively and to integrate into a society, communities must have an adequate knowledge of culture.
    Keywords: Culture, communication, socialization, behavioral patterns, society
    Date: 2018–11
  5. By: Stelios Michalopoulos; Melanie Meng Xue
    Abstract: Folklore is the collection of traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth. This vast expressive body, studied by the corresponding discipline of folklore, has evaded the attention of economists. In this study we do four things that reveal the tremendous potential of this corpus for understanding comparative development and culture. First, we introduce and describe a unique catalogue of folklore that codes the presence of thousands of motifs for roughly 1,000 pre-industrial societies. Second, we use a dictionary-based approach to elicit group-specific measures of various traits related to the natural environment, institutional framework, and mode of subsistence. We establish that these proxies are in accordance with the ethnographic record, and illustrate how to use a group’s oral tradition to quantify non-extant characteristics of preindustrial societies. Third, we use folklore to uncover the historical cultural values of a group. Doing so allows us to test various influential conjectures among social scientists including the original affluent society, the culture of honor among pastoralists, the role of family in extended kinship systems and the intensity of trade and rule-following norms in politically centralized group. Finally, we explore how cultural norms inferred via text analysis of oral traditions predict contemporary attitudes and beliefs.
    JEL: N00 Z1 Z13
    Date: 2019–01

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