nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2010‒06‒18
nine papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The Evolution of Secularization: Cultural Transmission, Religion and Fertility Theory, Simulations and Evidence By Bar-El, Ronen; García Muñoz, Teresa; Neuman, Shoshana; Tobol, Yossef
  2. Culture and Cooperation By Simon Gaechter; Benedikt Herrmann; Christian Thoeni
  3. Work Values, Endogenous Sentiments and Redistribution By Laurence Kranich; Matteo Cervellati; Joan Esteban
  4. THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL COMPARISONS ON RECIPROCITY By Simon Gaechter; Daniele Nosenzo; Martin Sefton
  5. Civic Capital as the Missing Link By Luigi Guiso; Paola Sapienza; Luigi Zingales
  6. Entrepreneurship and Human Development: A Capability Approach By Gries,Thomas; Naudé, Wim
  7. The endogenous nature of the measurement of social preferences By Smith, John
  8. The Climatic Origins of the Neolithic Revolution: Theory and Evidence By Quamrul Ashraf; Stelios Michalopoulos
  9. Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch By Quamrul Ashraf; Oded Galor

  1. By: Bar-El, Ronen (Open University of Israel); García Muñoz, Teresa (Universidad de Granada); Neuman, Shoshana (Bar-Ilan University); Tobol, Yossef (Bar-Ilan University)
    Abstract: This study presents an evolutionary process of secularization that integrates a theoretical model, simulations, and an empirical estimation that employs data from 32 countries (included in the International Social Survey Program: Religion II – ISSP, 1998). Following Bisin and Verdier (2000, 2001a), it is assumed that cultural/social norms are transmitted from one generation to the next one via two venues: (i) direct socialization – across generations, by parents; and (ii) oblique socialization – within generations, by the community and cultural environment. This paper focuses on the transmission of religious norms and in particular on the 'religious taste for children'. The theoretical framework describes the setting and the process leading to secularization of the population; the simulations give more insight into the process; and 'secularization regressions' estimate the effects of the various explanatory variables on secularization (that is measured by rare mass-attendance and by rare-prayer), lending support to corollaries derived from the theory and simulations. The main conclusions/findings are that (i) direct religious socialization efforts of one generation have a negative effect on secularization within the next generation; (ii) oblique socialization by the community has a parabolic effect on secularization; and (iii) the two types of socialization are complements in 'producing' religiosity of the next generation.
    Keywords: cultural transmission, religion, fertility, secularization, ISSP
    JEL: C15 C25 D13 J11 J13 Z12
    Date: 2010–05
  2. By: Simon Gaechter (Centre of Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham); Benedikt Herrmann (Centre of Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham); Christian Thoeni (University of St. Gallen)
    Abstract: Does the cultural background influence the success with which genetically unrelated individuals cooperate in social dilemma situations? In this paper we provide an answer by analyzing the data of Herrmann et al. (Science 2008, pp. 1362-1367), who study cooperation and punishment in sixteen subject pools from six different world cultures (as classified by Inglehart & Baker (American Sociological Review 2000, pp. 19-51)). We use analysis of variance to disentangle the importance of cultural background relative to individual heterogeneity and group-level differences in cooperation. We find that culture has a substantial influence on the extent of cooperation, in addition to individual heterogeneity and group-level differences identified by previous research. The significance of this result is that cultural background has a substantial influence on cooperation in otherwise identical environments. This is particularly true in the presence of punishment opportunities.
    Keywords: human cooperation; punishment; culture; experimental public good games
    Date: 2010–05
  3. By: Laurence Kranich; Matteo Cervellati; Joan Esteban
    Abstract: We examine the interactions between individual behavior, sentiments and the social contract in a model of rational voting over redistribution. Agents have moral "work values". Individuals' self-esteem and social consideration of others are endogenously determined comparing behaviors to moral standards. Attitudes toward redistribution depend on self-interest and social preferences. We characterize the politico-economic equilibria in which sentiments, labor supply and redistribution are determined simultaneously. The equilibria feature different degrees of "social cohesion" and redistribution depending on pre-tax income inequality. In clustered equilibria the poor are held partly responsible for their low income since they work less than the moral standard and hence redistribution is low. The paper proposes a novel explanation for the emergence of different sentiments and social contracts across countries. The predictions appear broadly in line with well-documented differences between the United States and Europe.
    Date: 2010
  4. By: Simon Gaechter (University of Nottingham); Daniele Nosenzo (University of Nottingham); Martin Sefton (University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: This paper investigates how social comparison information about referent others (i.e. learning what similar others do and how they are treated) affects reciprocal relationships. Using a three-person gift-exchange game we study how employees’ reciprocity towards an employer is affected by exposure to pay comparison information (what co-workers earn) and effort comparison information (how co-workers perform). We find that pay comparison information does not affect reciprocity. Effort comparison information, however, influences reciprocal relationships in important ways: the ability to observe reciprocal behavior on the part of others strongly affects employees’ reciprocity towards the employer. While our data show that social information in principle may either erode or amplify reciprocal relationships, we find that, on average, social comparisons have a detrimental impact on reciprocity.
    Keywords: Reciprocity, gift-exchange, social information, social comparisons, pay comparisons
    JEL: A13 C92 J31
    Date: 2010–05
  5. By: Luigi Guiso (European University Institute, EIEF, & CEPR); Paola Sapienza (Northwestern University, NBER, & CEPR); Luigi Zingales (University of Chicago, NBER, & CEPR)
    Abstract: This chapter reviews the recent debate about the role of social capital in economics. We argue that all the difficulties this concept has encountered in economics are due to a vague and excessively broad definition. For this reason, we restrict social capital to the set of values and beliefs that help cooperation—which for clarity we label civic capital. We argue that this definition differentiates social capital from human capital and satisfies the properties of the standard notion of capital. We then argue that civic capital can explain why differences in economic performance persist over centuries and discuss how the effect of civic capital can be distinguished empirically from other variables that affect economic performance and its persistence, including institutions and geography..
    Date: 2010
  6. By: Gries,Thomas; Naudé, Wim
    Abstract: We provide a formal model of entrepreneurship in human development. The framework is provided by the capabilities approach (CA). Hence we extend not only the conceptualisation of entrepreneurship in development, but the reach of the CA into entrepreneurship. From a CA view, entrepreneurship is not only a production factor, or a means to an end, as is often taken to be the case by economists, but also an end in itself. Entrepreneurship can be a human functioning and can contribute towards expanding the set of human capabilities through being both a resource and a process. Our model shows, however, that entrepreneurship is not automatically a functioning. Where it is a necessity it stops being a valued functioning. The model also shows that even when entrepreneurship is valued, entrepreneurs may often not match their ideas with suitable opportunities. Policy implications are discussed.
    Keywords: capability approach, entrepreneurship, human development
    Date: 2010
  7. By: Smith, John
    Abstract: Measures of preferences are primarily useful in that they are helpful in predicting behavior. We perform an experiment which demonstrates that the timing of the measurement of social preferences can affect such a measure. Researchers often measure social preferences by posing a series of dictator game allocation decisions; we use a particular technique, Social Value Orientation (SVO). We vary the order of the SVO measurement and a lager stakes dictator game. In our first study, we find that subjects with prosocial preferences act even more prosocially when the SVO measurement is administered first, whereas those with selfish preferences are unaffected by the order. In our second study we vary the order of the SVO measurement and a nonstandard dictator game. We do not find the effect found in the first study. This suggests that the effect found in the first study is driven by choices involving the size of surplus.
    Keywords: experimental economics; social values; dictator game; social value orientation
    JEL: D64 Z13 C91
    Date: 2010–06–13
  8. By: Quamrul Ashraf (Williams College); Stelios Michalopoulos (Tufts University)
    Abstract: This research examines theoretically and empirically the origins of agriculture. The theory highlights the role of climatic sequences as a fundamental determinant of both technological sophistication and population density in a hunter-gatherer regime. It argues that foragers facing volatile environments were forced to take advantage of their productive endowments at a faster pace. Consequently, as long as climatic shocks preserved the possibility for agriculture, di¤erences in the rate at which foragers were climatically propelled to exploit their habitat determined the comparative evolution of hunter-gatherer societies towards farming. The theory is tested using both cross-country and cross-archaeological site data on the emergence of farming. Consistent with the theory, the empirical analysis demonstrates that, conditional on biogeographic endowments, climatic volatility has a non-monotonic e¤ect on the timing of the transition to agriculture. Farming was undertaken earlier in regions characterized by intermediate levels of climatic volatility, with regions subjected to either too high or too low intertemporal variability transiting later.
    Keywords: Hunting and Gathering, Agriculture, Neolithic Revolution, Climatic Volatility, Technological Progress, Population Density.
    JEL: J10 O11 O13 O33 O40 Q54 Q55
    Date: 2010–05
  9. By: Quamrul Ashraf (Williams College); Oded Galor (Brown University)
    Abstract: This paper conducts the first cross-country empirical examination of the predictions of the influential Malthusian theory regarding population density and income per capita during the pre-industrial era of human history. The theory suggests that improvements in the technological environment during this epoch generated only temporary gains in income per capita, eventually leading to a larger, but not richer, population. Employing exogenous sources of cross-country variations in land productivity and the level of technological advancement, the analysis demonstrates that, in accordance with the Malthusian theory, technologically superior societies, or those that were characterized by higher land productivity, had higher population densities, but similar standards of living, during the time period 1-1500 CE.
    Keywords: Technological Progress, Population Density, Malthusian Stagnation, Land Productivity, Neolithic Revolution
    JEL: N10 N30 N50 O10 O40 O50
    Date: 2010–01

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