nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2009‒06‒10
four papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Evolutionary Policy By Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh; Giorgos Kallis
  2. Is Novelty always a good thing? Towards an Evolutionary Welfare Economics By Christian Schubert
  3. An Evolutionary Edge of Knowing Less (or: On the âCurseâ of Global Information) By Stark, Oded; Behrens, Doris A.
  4. Social Change: The Sexual Revolution. By Jeremy Greenwood; Nezih Guner

  1. By: Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh; Giorgos Kallis
    Abstract: We explore the idea of public policy from the perspective of evolutionary thinking. This involves paying attention to concepts like diversity, population, selection, innovation, coevolution, group selection, path-dependence and lock-in. We critically discuss the notion of evolutionary progress. The relevance of evolutionary dynamics is illustrated for policy and political change, technical change, sustainability transitions and regulation of consumer behaviour. A lack of attention for the development of evolutionary policy criteria and goals is identified and alternative choices are critically evaluated. Finally, evolutionary policy advice is compared with policy advice coming from neoclassical economics, public choice theory and theories of resilience and adaptive management. We argue that evolutionary thinking offers a distinct and useful perspective on public policy design and change.
    Keywords: Adaptive management, coevolution, escaping lock-in, evolutionary politics, evolutionary progress, innovation policy, optimal diversity, resilience, social-technical transition Length 43 pages
    Date: 2009–05
  2. By: Christian Schubert
    Abstract: Schumpeter’s and Hayek’s view of market coordination as being not about efficiency, but about endogenous change and never-ending discovery has been increasingly recognized even by the mainstream of economics. Underlying this view is the notion of creative learning agents who bring about novelty. We argue that apart from the challenges it poses for positive theorizing, novelty (be it technological, institutional or commercial) also has a complex normative dimension that standard welfare economics is unsuited to deal with. We show that welfare economics has to be reconstructed on the basis of evolutionary-naturalistic insights into the way human agents bring about, value and respond to novelty-induced change.
    Keywords: Novelty, Endogenous Change, Preference Formation, Welfare, Justice Length 28 pages
    JEL: D63 O12
    Date: 2009–05
  3. By: Stark, Oded; Behrens, Doris A.
    Abstract: Consider a population of farmers who live around a lake. Each farmer engages in trade with his two adjacent neighbors. The trade is governed by a prisonerâs dilemma ârule of en-gagement.â A farmerâs payoff is the sum of the payoffs from the two prisonerâs dilemma games played with his two neighbors. When a farmer dies, his son takes over. The son decides whether to cooperate or defect by considering the actions taken and the payoffs received by the most prosperous members of the group comprising his own father and a set of his fatherâs neighbors. The size of this set, which can vary, is termed the âspan of information.â It is shown that a larger span of information can be detrimental to the stable coexistence of cooperation and defection, and that in well-defined circumstances, a large span of information leads to an end of coopera-tion, whereas a small span does not. Conditions are outlined under which, when individualsâ op-timization is based on the assessment of less information, the social outcome is better than when optimization is based on an assessment of, and a corresponding response to, more information.
    Keywords: Span of interaction, Span of information, Imitation, Social welfare, Community/Rural/Urban Development, D83, R12, O4,
    Date: 2009–03
  4. By: Jeremy Greenwood (Department of Economics University of Pennsylvania); Nezih Guner (Department of Economics, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)
    Abstract: In 1900 only six percent of unwed females engaged in premarital sex. Now, three quarters do. The sexual revolution is studied here using an equilibrium matching model, where the costs of premarital sex fall over time due to technological improvement in contraceptives. Individuals differ in their desire for sex. Given this, people tend to circulate in social groups where prospective partners share their views on premarital sex. To the extent that a society's customs and mores reflect the aggregation of decentralized decision making by its members, shifts in the economic environment may induce changes in what is perceived as culture.
    Keywords: Social change, the sexual revolution, technological progress in contraceptives, bilateral search.
    JEL: E1 J1 O3
    Date: 2009–05

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