nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2010‒05‒08
six papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Biological Variables in Social Surveys By Rainer Schnell
  2. The state and scope of the economic history of developing regions By Stefan Schirmer; Latika Chaudhary; Metin Cosgel; Jean-Luc Demonsant; Johan Fourie; Ewout Frankema; Giampaolo Garzarelli; John Luiz; Martine Mariotti; Grietjie Verhoef; Se Yan
  3. The Cult of Theoi: Economic Uncertainty and Religion By Frijters, Paul; Barón, Juan D.
  4. The "Out of Africa" Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development By Quamrul Ashraf; Oded Galor
  5. Egalitarian Religion and Economics By Chiswick, Carmel U.
  6. Is there a relation between trust and trustworthiness? By Tamás Kovács; Marc Willinger

  1. By: Rainer Schnell
    Abstract: Social scientists have long virtually ignored the biological constraints of human behavior. Yet if the prediction of behavior is considered essential to a social science, neglecting any variable that might influence human behavior is unacceptable. This paper provides examples of important biological variables and describes their measurement in social surveys.
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Stefan Schirmer; Latika Chaudhary; Metin Cosgel; Jean-Luc Demonsant; Johan Fourie; Ewout Frankema; Giampaolo Garzarelli; John Luiz; Martine Mariotti; Grietjie Verhoef; Se Yan
    Abstract: This paper examines the state and scope of the study of economic history of developing regions, underlining the importance of knowledge of history for economic development. While the quality of the existing research on developing countries is impressive, the proportion of published research focusing on these regions is low. The dominance of economic history research on the North American and Western European success stories suggests we need a forum for future research that contributes to our understanding of how institutions, path dependency, technological change and evolutionary processes shape economic growth in the developing parts of the world. Many valuable data sets and historical episodes relating to developing regions remain unexplored, and many interesting questions unanswered. This is exciting. Economic historians and other academics interested in the economic past have an opportunity to work to begin to unlock the complex reasons for differences in development, the factors behind economic disasters and the dynamics driving emerging success stories.
    JEL: N01
    Date: 2010–04
  3. By: Frijters, Paul (University of Queensland); Barón, Juan D. (Banco de la República de Colombia)
    Abstract: Sacrifices to deities occur in nearly all known religions. In this paper, we report on our attempts to elicit this type of religious behaviour towards "Theoi" in the laboratory. The theory we test is that, when faced with uncertainty, individuals attempt to engage in a reciprocal contract with the source of uncertainty by sacrificing towards it. In our experiments, we create the situation whereby individuals face an uncertain economic payback due to "Theoi" and we allow participants to sacrifice towards this entity. Aggregate sacrifices amongst participants are over 30% of all takings, increase with the level of humanistic labelling of Theoi and decrease when participants share information or when the level of uncertainty is lower. The findings imply that under circumstances of high uncertainty people are willing to sacrifice large portions of their income even when this has no discernable effect on outcomes.
    Keywords: uncertainty, religion, sacrifice, experiment
    JEL: D8 Z12
    Date: 2010–04
  4. By: Quamrul Ashraf; Oded Galor
    Abstract: This research argues that deep-rooted factors, determined tens of thousands of years ago, had a signi.cant e¤ect on the course of economic development from the dawn of human civilization to the contemporary era. It advances and empirically establishes the hypothesis that in the course of the exodus of Homo sapiens out of Africa, variation in migratory distance from the cradle of humankind to various settlements across the globe a¤ected genetic diversity and has had a direct long-lasting e¤ect on the pattern of comparative economic development that could not be captured by contemporary geographical, institutional, and cultural factors. In particular, the level of genetic diversity within a society is found to have a hump-shaped e¤ect on development outcomes in the pre-colonial era, re.ecting the trade-o¤ between the bene.cial and the detrimen- tal e¤ects of diversity on productivity. Moreover, the level of genetic diversity in each country today (i.e., genetic diversity and genetic distance among and between its ancestral populations) has a similar non-monotonic e¤ect on the contemporary levels of income per capita. While the intermediate level of genetic diversity prevalent among the Asian and European populations has been conducive for development, the high degree of diversity among African populations and the low degree of diversity among Native American populations have been a detrimental force in the development of these regions. Further, the optimal level of diversity has increased in the process of industrialization, as the bene.cial forces associated with greater diversity have intensi.ed in an environment characterized by more rapid technological progress.
    Keywords: .Out of Africa. hypothesis; Human genetic diversity; Comparative development; Population density; Neolithic Revolution; Land productivity; Malthusian stagnation
    Date: 2010
  5. By: Chiswick, Carmel U. (University of Illinois at Chicago)
    Abstract: The role of women in the ritual of many religions changed dramatically at the end of the 20th century, to the point where full participation by women was the norm by 2000 rather than the rarity that it had been 30 years earlier. This paper considers some aspects of the economic context that help explain why the movement toward egalitarianism succeeded in that period in contrast to its many previous failures. It concludes with predictions of future trends.
    Keywords: economics, gender, religion, fertility
    JEL: J16 Z12 J13
    Date: 2010–04
  6. By: Tamás Kovács; Marc Willinger
    Abstract: We provide new evidence about a positive correlation between the own amount sent and the own amount returned in the investment game. Our analysis relies on experimental data collected under the strategy method for establishing our main result. While the percentage returned is independent of the amount received for most of our subjects, it is strongly correlated to their amount sent as a trustor. Our analysis is based on a two-way classification of subjects : according to their trusting type and according to their reciprocal type. We show the existence of a strong correlation between trusting types and reciprocal types within subjects.
    Date: 2010–03

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