nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2010‒11‒13
fifteen papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The Economics of Cultural Transmission and Socialization By Alberto Bisin; Thierry Verdier
  2. The role of social trust in reducing long-term truancy and forming human capital in Japan By Yamamura, Eiji
  3. Legitimate Punishment, Feedback, and the Enforcement of Cooperation By Marco Faillo; Daniela Grieco; Luca Zarri
  4. Feature-based Choice and Similarity in Normal-form Games: An Experimental Study. By Giovanna Devetag; Sibilla Di Guida
  5. The Puzzle of Social Preferences By Jordi Brandts; Enrique Fatas
  6. Halting the rural race to the bottom: an evolutionary model of rural development to analyse neo-endogenous policies in the EU By Petrick, Martin
  7. A within-subject analysis of other-regarding preferences By Blanco, Mariana; Engelmann, Dirk; Normann, Hans-Theo
  8. Ecological, Heterodox and Neoclassical Economics: Investigating the Differences By Spash, Clive L.; Ryan, Anthony M.
  9. Combining the contributions of behavioral economics and other social sciences in understanding taxation and tax reform By James, Simon
  10. What’s wrong with the world? Rationality! A critique of economic anthropology in the spirit of Jean Gebser By Pogany, Peter
  11. Response - Evolution of fairness: Rereading the data.. By Henrich, Joseph; Ensminger, Jean; McElreath, Richard; Barr, Abigail; Barrett, Clark; Bolyanatz, Alexander; Cardenas, Juan Camilo; Gurven, Michael; Gwako, Edwins; Henrich, Natalie; Lesorogol, Carolyn; Marlowe, Frank; Tracer, David; Ziker, John
  12. Never retreat, never surrender: The bargaining power of commitment in the Hawk-Dove game By Luis Alejandro Palacio García; Alexandra Cortés Aguilar
  13. Norms, Culture and Local Infrastructure: Evidence from a Decentralised Economy By Pal, Sarmistha
  14. What Kids Get from Parents: Packages of Parental Involvement across Complex Family Forms By Marcia J. Carlson; Lawrence M. Berger
  15. The History Augmented Solow model By Dalgaard, Carl-Johan; Strulik, Holger

  1. By: Alberto Bisin; Thierry Verdier
    Abstract: Cultural transmission arguably plays an important role in the determination of many fundamental preference traits (e.g., discounting, risk aversion and altruism) and most cultural traits, social norms, and ideological tenets ( e.g., attitudes towards family and fertility practices, and attitudes in the job market). It is, however, the pervasive evidence of the resilience of ethnic and religious traits across generations that motivates a large fraction of the theoretical and empirical literature on cultural transmission. This article reviews the main contributions of models of cultural transmission, from theoretical and empirical perspectives. It presents their implications regarding the long-run population dynamics of cultural traits and cultural heterogeneity, the world's geographical fragmentation by ethic and religious traits, at any given time. Finally, the paper reviews the empirical literature which estimates various properties of cultural transmission mechanisms as well as the population dynamics of specific traits.
    JEL: Z1
    Date: 2010–11
  2. By: Yamamura, Eiji
    Abstract: This paper attempts to examine how social trust influences human capital formation using prefectural level data in Japan. To this end, I constructed a proxy for social trust, based on the Japanese General Social Surveys. After controlling for socioeconomic factors, I found that social trust plays an important role in reducing the rate of long-term truancy in primary and junior high school. Results suggest that social trust improves educational quality.
    Keywords: human capital; educational economics; economic impact
    JEL: I21 Z13
    Date: 2010–11–01
  3. By: Marco Faillo (Department of Economics, University of Trento); Daniela Grieco (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Luca Zarri (Department of Economics (University of Verona))
    Abstract: In the framework of a finitely repeated public goods game with costly punishment options, we introduce a novel restrictive setup where a principle of legitimacy holds, in the sense that only virtuous behavior (that is, being a high contributor) allows one to gain access to sanctioning opportunities (‘entitlement’) and only wrongful behavior (that is, being a low contributor) makes one a potential target of peer punishment (‘desert’). As a consequence, acting virtuously guarantees that it will not be possible to be punished by less virtuous subjects (‘immunity’). These restrictions, by allowing for ‘legitimate punishment’ only, rule out by construction so called antisocial punishment as well as vengeful behavior. Moreover, we manipulate the amount of information over others’ contributions that subjects receive before making their punishment decisions. Our preliminary results show that restrictions lead to an increase of cooperation levels and virtuous restrictions combined with detailed feedback on peers’ contribution significantly increase contribution levels and make cooperation sustainable over time.
    Keywords: Experimental Economics, Public Good Games, Costly Punishment, Cooperation, Legitimacy, Immunity
    JEL: C72 C91 C92 D23 D72
    Date: 2010–11
  4. By: Giovanna Devetag; Sibilla Di Guida
    Abstract: In this paper we test the effect of descriptive "features" on initial strategic behavior in normal form games, where "descriptive" are all those features that can be modified without altering the (Nash) equilibrium structure of a game. We observe that our experimental subjects behave according to some simple heuristics based on descriptive features, and that these heuristics are stable even across strategically different games. This suggests that a categorization of games based on features may be more accurate in predicting agents' initial behavior than the standard categorization based on Nash equilibria, as shown by the analysis of individual behavior. Analysis of choice patterns and individual response times suggests that non-equilibrium choices may be due to the use of incorrect and simplified mental representations of the game structure, rather than to beliefs in other players' irrationality. Of the four stationary concepts analyzed (Nash equilibrium, QRE, action sampling, and payoff sampling), QRE results the best in fitting the data.
    Keywords: normal form games; one-shot games; response times; dominance; similarity; categorization; focal points
    JEL: C72 C91 C92
    Date: 2010–11
  5. By: Jordi Brandts (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Instituto de Análisis Económico (CSIC)); Enrique Fatas (Universidad de València)
    Abstract: We present a brief overview of the experimental economics literature on social preferences. In numerous experiments, economically incentivized subjects are willing to sacrifice part of their material earnings to compensate the kind behavior of others, or will be willing to reciprocate at a non-negligible cost, or even pay a positive price for punishing the behavior of selfish individuals. All these actions are labeled as social in economics because there is no apparent way to reconcile them with any reasonable form of pure self-interest. We focus on social dilemma games and want to communicate two main messages. First, research in experimental economics has produced abundant evidence that illustrates the social components of people’s preferences. Second, social sanctions of different types play an important role in facilitating cooperative behavior.
    Date: 2010–10–01
  6. By: Petrick, Martin
    Abstract: The article contributes to the understanding of neo-endogenous rural development policies from the perspective of evolutionary game theory. Rural development is modelled as the increasing realisation over time of gains from interaction by rural stakeholders. The model exhibits two dynamically stable equilibria, which depict declining and prospering regions. Neo-endogenous policies are interpreted as stimuli emerging from an external government authority which help decentralised actors to coordinate on the superior of the two equilibria. External intervention may thus be possible and desirable without giving up the autonomy of local decision makers. However, because initial conditions matter, outcomes cannot be planned or engineered from the outside.
    Keywords: Rural governance, neo-endogenous policies, evolutionary game theory, collective action, Community/Rural/Urban Development, C73, R23, R58,
    Date: 2010–08
  7. By: Blanco, Mariana; Engelmann, Dirk; Normann, Hans-Theo
    Abstract: We assess the predictive power of a model of other-regarding preferences - inequality aversion - using a within-subjects design. We run four different experiments (ultimatum game, dictator game, sequential-move prisoners' dilemma and public-good game) with the same sample of subjects. We elicit two parameters of inequality aversion to test several hypotheses across games. We find that within-subject tests can differ markedly from aggregate-level analyses. Inequality-aversion has predictive power at the aggregate level but performs less well at the individual level. The model seems to capture various behavioral motives in different games but the correlation of these motives is low within subjects. --
    Keywords: behavioral economics,experimental economics,inequality aversion,otherregarding preferences
    JEL: C72 C91
    Date: 2010
  8. By: Spash, Clive L.; Ryan, Anthony M.
    Abstract: How heterodox are ecological economists and how ecological are heterodox economists? How do both differ, if at all, from neoclassical economists when addressing environmental problems? In 2009 we probed such questions by conducting an international survey at economic conferences on the environment and sustainability. This paper reports on surveys conducted at conferences of the European Society for Ecological Economics, the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economics, and the Association of Heterodox Economists. A key aim was to gain insight into the extent to which ecological economics can be described as a distinct field of research from orthodox environmental and resource economics. Conflict within the field has meant a prevalence of neoclassical articles and thought mixed in amongst more heterodox work. The question then arises are those participating in ecological economics ideologically and methodologically similar to those schools of thought falling under the heterodox economic umbrella or the orthodox? In addressing this question problems are identified with economic understanding of environmental problems and the lack of communication across schools and disciplines. Suggestions are made as to how we might, as a community of concerned scholars and activists, move forward.
    Keywords: Ecological economics; heterodox; neoclassical; methodology; ideology
    JEL: B40 Q0 B59
    Date: 2010–10–29
  9. By: James, Simon
    Abstract: This paper extends previous work presented at the SABE/IAREP conference at St Mary’s University, Halifax (James, 2009). In the earlier paper it was shown that conventional economic theory is used to make the case for tax reform but does not always adequately incorporate all the relevant factors. However, an approach based on behavioral economics can make the difference between success and failure. In this paper the contributions of other social sciences are also included. Taxation is a particularly appropriate subject to explore the integration of the social sciences since they have all devoted considerable attention to it. It can be seen that different social sciences suggest a range of variables that might be taken into account in addition to those included in mainstream economics. Other social sciences also offer different methodological approaches and consider the possibility of different outcomes of the fiscal process. The paper concludes that it is not easy to integrate the social sciences in a single approach to the study of tax and tax policy. There may also be the risk of encouraging inappropriate integration - researchers operating outside their expertise can produce results that are not helpful. However, comparing the contribution of behavioral economics with those of the social sciences more generally, it can be seen that behavioral economics can offer a framework within which these areas can be examined. Indeed, it may be a useful channel to add the contributions of other social sciences to mainstream economic research.
    Keywords: behavioral economics; social sciences; taxation; tax reform
    JEL: H20 H30 H71 H3
    Date: 2010–08
  10. By: Pogany, Peter
    Abstract: Jean Gebser (1905-1973) was a multidisciplinary thinker whose ideas about human consciousness and the future inspire the following five vantage points for the heterodox critique of contemporary economic anthropology: (1) Characteristic attributes of consciousness and those of the environment surrounding the individual are equivalent, eliminating the possibility of single-minded, seamless, rational control, especially during macrohistoric phase transitions; (2) Diaphaneity as a mode of deep and comprehensive understanding (an approach that excludes latching on to any selectively focused explanation) will be needed to deal effectively with emerging global resource and environmental problems; (3) Costs in the form of irreversibly accumulating inaccessible energy shadows our evolving civilization, which our cultural conditioning portrays as pure progress; (4) Rationality, as the most laudable motivation for individuals, business firms and nations, has led to an unfounded techno-fetish; and, for various reasons, it fuels accelerated movement toward collective self-destruction; (5) Signs of chaos (not the harmless and controllable kind found in standard economic literature) corroborate the notion that we have entered a new period of macrohistoric phase transition as interpreted by the thermodynamic comprehension of universal history.
    Keywords: Jean Gebser;global economy;universal history;resource constraints;entropy law;bifurcation;chaos theory;
    JEL: N01 P00 Z10 P51 B29 Q01 Z13
    Date: 2010–11–05
  11. By: Henrich, Joseph; Ensminger, Jean; McElreath, Richard; Barr, Abigail; Barrett, Clark; Bolyanatz, Alexander; Cardenas, Juan Camilo; Gurven, Michael; Gwako, Edwins; Henrich, Natalie; Lesorogol, Carolyn; Marlowe, Frank; Tracer, David; Ziker, John
    Date: 2010
  12. By: Luis Alejandro Palacio García (Universidad Industrial de Santander (Colombia) and Universidad de Granada (Spain)); Alexandra Cortés Aguilar (Universidad Industrial de Santander (Colombia) and Universidad de Granada (Spain))
    Abstract: This paper studies experimentally the conditions that improve bargaining power using threats in a negotiation process. Following Schelling’s (1960) ideas we choose the hawk-dove game because is the simplest negotiation environment with inequity distribution in equilibrium. The analysis is focused on three essential elements of commitment: the possibility of a player to announce his own actions, the credibility of these messages and the experience acquired in the negotiation process. The empirical evidence shows that, in the first period, subjects do not realize the bargaining power of commitment. When the game is repeated and experience increases, subjects gradually understand the advantages of a threat, turning the payoffs into their favor. Credibility is also relevant for the relation, if subjects can choose their message, it is common to find strategic liars, and their rivals punish this behavior.
    Keywords: Credible threats, negotiation, experiments
    Date: 2010–10–01
  13. By: Pal, Sarmistha (Brunel University)
    Abstract: Culture as reflected in social and religious norms may be pivotal to social organization in a decentralised economy where local authorities are responsible for the provision of local public goods. We distinguish between individualist and collectivist cultures to argue that collectivist culture may promote rules to indulge in family, social and religious values at the cost of individual values promoting material objects and may thus result in inefficient choice of pubic goods. We use Indonesia as a case in point to classify communities strictly adhering to traditional adat laws and Islamic religion as promoting collectivist culture. Results using 1997 and 2007 Indonesian Family Life Survey community-level panel data highlight that, even after controlling for other variables, traditional collectivist communities strongly adhering to adat and Islam tend to have significantly greater access to social (rather than physical) infrastructural goods; similar pattern is reflected in the allocation of community spending to these goods.
    Keywords: decentralization, collectivist culture, adat law, Islam, social and physical infrastructure, allocation of spending, community development, Indonesia
    JEL: D02 H41 O43 P51
    Date: 2010–10
  14. By: Marcia J. Carlson (University of Wisconsin-Madison); Lawrence M. Berger (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
    Abstract: While demographers have continued to document the notable family changes that have occurred in recent decades, the nature of family functioning across diverse family forms is less well understood. In particular, we know little about the level and quality of parental investment that children receive across a range of contemporary family types. In this paper, we use data from a recent U.S. urban birth cohort to examine the ‘package’ of parental involvement that young children receive in two key domains across family types. We aggregate parent-child engagement across three potential parent(-figures) - biological mothers, biological fathers (resident or non-resident), and resident social fathers - and also assess the child’s household income. We examine parental investments at child age 5 and changes in investments between child ages 1 to 5 by family structure categories. Overall, we find that children living with both of their (married) biological parents are advantaged with respect to both economic resources and parental engagement, while children living with single mothers fare especially poorly in both domains; children in social-father families receive similar levels of engagement to those in biological-father families but are much less economically advantaged. Our research sheds light on the consequences of changing family demography for parental investments in children and may have implications for public policies designed to support disadvantaged families.
    Keywords: family changes, parental investment, disadvantage families, father engagement
    JEL: D60 H31 I00 J15 J00
    Date: 2010–10
  15. By: Dalgaard, Carl-Johan; Strulik, Holger
    Abstract: Unified growth theory predicts that the timing of the fertility transition is a key determinant of contemporary comparative development, as it marks the onset of the take-off to sustained growth. Neoclassical growth theory presupposes a take-off, and explains comparative development by variations in (subsequent) investment rates. The present analysis integrates these two perspectives empirically, and shows that they together constitute a powerful predictive tool vis-a-vis contemporary income differences.
    Keywords: Comparative Development; Unified Growth Theory; Neoclassical Growth Theory
    JEL: O11 O57
    Date: 2010–11

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