nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2007‒09‒09
three papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Can Sustainable Consumption Be Learned? By G. Buenstorf; C. Cordes
  2. Explaining Gift Behavior: Altruism or Social Norms? Theory and Evidence from Romania By Mitrut, Andreea; Nordblom, Katarina
  3. What Norms Trigger Punishment By Jeffrey Carpenter; Peter Hans Matthews

  1. By: G. Buenstorf; C. Cordes
    Abstract: This paper shows how sustainable consumption patterns can spread within a population via processes of social learning even though a strong individual learning bias may favor environmentally harmful products. We present a model depicting how the biased transmission of different behaviors via individual and social learning influences agents’ consumption behavior. The underlying learning biases can be traced back to evolved cognitive dispositions. Challenging the vision of a permanent transition toward sustainability, we argue that “green†consumption patterns are not self-reinforcing and cannot be “locked in†permanently.
    Keywords: Length 28 pages
    Date: 2007–08
  2. By: Mitrut, Andreea (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Nordblom, Katarina (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: This paper examines the motives behind inter-household gift transfers. A theoretical model is developed where, besides altruistic income redistribution, social norms (related to e.g. customs and traditions) motivate gift giving. We apply the model to Romania, a country where private gifts are very important, and find evidence for social norms being the main motive for gift giving. However, different norms determine gift transfers to poor and non-poor households. Moreover, we find no crowding-out effects from public pensions on private gifts.<p>
    Keywords: Transfers; altruism; reciprocity; Romania; social norms
    JEL: D10 H55 I30 J14 R20 Z13
    Date: 2007–09–04
  3. By: Jeffrey Carpenter; Peter Hans Matthews
    Abstract: Many experiments have demonstrated the power of norm enforcement-peer monitoring and punishment-to maintain, or even increase, contributions in social dilemma settings, but little is known about the underlying norms that monitors use to make punishment decisions. Using a large sample of experimental data, we empirically recover the set of norms used most often by monitors and show ?rst that the decision to punish should be modeled separately from the decision of how much to punish. Second, we show that absolute norms often ?t the data better than the group average norm often assumed in related work. Third, we ?nd that di?erent norms seem to in?uence the decisions about punishing violators inside and outside one’s own group.
    Keywords: public good, experiment, punishment, social norm, norm enforcement.
    JEL: C72 C92 H41
    Date: 2007–08

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