nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2011‒02‒12
ten papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Kenneth Boulding as a Moral Scientist By Davis, John B.
  2. Did We Overestimate the Role of Social Preferences? The Case of Self-Selected Student Samples By Falk, Armin; Meier, Stephan; Zehnder, Christian
  3. Threat and Punishment in Public Good Experiments By David Masclet; Charles N. Noussair; Marie-Claire Villeval
  4. The Role of Passionate Individuals in Economic Development By Zakharenko, Roman
  5. The Knowledge Base Evolution in Biotechnology: A Social Network Analysis. By Jackie Krafft; Francesco Quatraro; Pier-Paolo Saviotti
  6. Where do preferences come from? By Dietrich Franz; List Christian
  7. Extrapolation in Games of Coordination and Dominance Solvable Games By Friederike Mengel; Emanuela Sciubba
  8. An Evolutionary Game Approach to the Issues of Migration, Nationalism, Assimilation and Enclaves By Andre Barreira da Silva Rocha
  9. Influence networks By LOPEZ-PINTADO, Dunia
  10. State or Nature? Formal vs. Informal Sanctioning in the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods By Kenju Kamei; Louis Putterman; Jean-Robert Tyran

  1. By: Davis, John B. (Department of Economics Marquette University)
    Abstract: Kenneth Boulding’s AEA presidential address argued that economics is a moral science. His view derived from his general systems theory thinking, his three systems view of human society, and his early contributions to evolutionary economics. Boulding’s argument that economics could not be value-free should be distinguished from other well-known views of economics as a moral science, such as Gunnar Myrdal’s. This paper discusses the development and nature of Boulding’s thinking about economics as a moral science in the larger context of his thinking.
    Keywords: Boulding, moral science, general systems theory, three systems view, evolutionary economics
    JEL: A13 B31 B52
    Date: 2011–01
  2. By: Falk, Armin (University of Bonn); Meier, Stephan (Columbia University); Zehnder, Christian (University of Lausanne)
    Abstract: Social preference research has received considerable attention among economists in recent years. However, the empirical foundation of social preferences is largely based on laboratory experiments with self-selected students as participants. This is potentially problematic as students participating in experiments may behave systematically different than non-participating students or non-students. In this paper we empirically investigate whether laboratory experiments with student samples misrepresent the importance of social preferences. Our first study shows that students who exhibit stronger prosocial inclinations in an unrelated field donation are not more likely to participate in experiments. This suggests that self-selection of more prosocial students into experiments is not a major issue. Our second study compares behavior of students and the general population in a trust experiment. We find very similar behavioral patterns for the two groups. If anything, the level of reciprocation seems higher among non-students suggesting that results from student samples might be seen as a lower bound for the importance of prosocial behavior.
    Keywords: methodology, selection, experiments, prosocial behavior
    JEL: C90
    Date: 2011–02
  3. By: David Masclet; Charles N. Noussair; Marie-Claire Villeval
    Abstract: Experimental studies of social dilemmas have shown that while the existence of a sanctioning institution improves cooperation within groups, it also has a detrimental impact on group earnings in the short-run. Could the introduction of pre-play threats to punish have enough of a beneficial impact on cooperation, while not incurring the cost associated with actual punishment, so that they increase overall welfare? We report an experiment in which players can issue non-binding threats to punish others based on their contribution levels to a public good. After observing others’ actual contributions, they choose their actual punishment level. We find that threats increase the level of contributions significantly. Efficiency is improved, but only in the long run. However, the possibility of sanctioning differences between threatened and actual punishment leads to lower threats, cooperation and welfare, restoring them to levels equal to or below the levels attained in the absence of threats. <P>Les agents n’hésitent pas à sanctionner les resquilleurs dans des situations de dilemmes sociaux et cela a un effet positif sur la coopération. Toutefois, les mécanismes de sanction peuvent également générer des externalités négatives fortes sur les gains. Dans quelle mesure l’introduction de menaces non crédibles est-elle en mesure d’impacter positivement la coopération sans engendrer ces externalités négatives? Afin de répondre à cette question, nous avons réalisé une expérience dans laquelle les agents ont la possibilité d’annoncer combien ils seraient prêts à sanctionner les autres membres de leur groupe pour tous les montants possibles de contribution. Nous observons qu’introduire cette étape de menace a un effet positif sur la coopération. Toutefois, l’efficience en termes de gain n’est pas améliorée à long terme. La possibilité de sanctionner ceux qui punissent moins que ce qu’ils ont annoncé conduit les agents à réduire le niveau de menace et celui de la coopération.
    Keywords: Threats, cheap talk, sanctions, public good, experiment., Menaces, parler à bon marché, sanctions, bien public, expérience.
    JEL: C92 H41 D63
    Date: 2011–01–01
  4. By: Zakharenko, Roman
    Abstract: In this paper, I merge two theories -- theory of "passionate individuals" by Gumilev(1989) and Memetics by Dawkins(1976) - to develop a formal growth theory that states that societies become more developed when their members have more intrinsic motivation to solve problems of social importance (i.e. make "cultural contributions"). Individuals derive utility from genetic fitness (i.e. the number of surviving children) as well as from cultural fitness, defined as the amount of appreciation ("honor") of one's cultural contribution by future generations. To make a cultural contribution, one must study/honor cultural contributions of the past, which leads to multiple steady states. In the survival steady state, individuals expect that no one in the future will be interested in their cultural contribution, which makes them allocate all energy onto maximization of genetic fitness and care little about cultural contributions of the past. In the passionate steady state, individuals expect high appreciation of their cultural contribution and thus spend a lot of energy onto making such a contribution, which makes them highly appreciate cultural contributions of the past. Empirical implications of theory are also discussed.
    Keywords: passionate individuals; human values; poverty traps; memetics; economic growth
    JEL: O11 O49 Z13
    Date: 2011–02–01
  5. By: Jackie Krafft (GREDEG - Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion - CNRS : UMR6227 - Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis); Francesco Quatraro (GREDEG - Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion - CNRS : UMR6227 - Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, Department of Economics, University of Turin - University of Turin); Pier-Paolo Saviotti (GREDEG - Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion - CNRS : UMR6227 - Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, GAEL - Grenoble Applied Economic laboratory - Aucune)
    Abstract: This paper applies the methodological tools typical of social network analysis (SNA) within an evolutionary framework, to investigate the knowledge base dynamics of the biotechnology sector. Knowledge is here considered a collective good represented as a co-relational and a retrieval-interpretative structure. The internal structure of knowledge is described as a network the nodes of which are small units within traces of knowledge, such as patent documents, connected by links determined by their joint utilisation. We used measures referring to the network, like density, and to its nodes, like degree, closeness and betweenness centrality, to provide a synthetic description of the structure of the knowledge base and of its evolution over time. Eventually, we compared such measures with more established properties of the knowledge base calculated on the basis of co-occurrences of technological classes within patent documents. Empirical results show the existence of interesting and meaningful relationships across the different measures, providing support for the use of SNA to study the evolution of the knowledge bases of industrial sectors and their lifecycles.
    Keywords: Knowledge Base, Social Network Analysis, Variety, Coherence, Industry lifecycles; exploration/exploitation
    Date: 2011
  6. By: Dietrich Franz; List Christian (METEOR)
    Abstract: Rational choice theory analyzes how an agent can rationally act, given his or her preferences, but says little about where those preferences come from. Instead, preferences are usually assumed to be .xed and exogenously given. We introduce a framework for conceptualizing preference formation and preference change. In our model, an agent.s preferences are based on certain .motivationally of the alternatives over which the preferences are held. Preferences may change as new properties of the alternatives become salient or previously salient ones cease to be so. We suggest that our approach captures endogenous preferences in various contexts, and helps to illuminate the distinction between formal and substantive concepts of rationality, as well as the role of perception in rational choice.
    Keywords: microeconomics ;
    Date: 2011
  7. By: Friederike Mengel (Maastricht University); Emanuela Sciubba (Birkbeck College London)
    Abstract: We study extrapolation between games in a laboratory experiment. Participants in our experiment first play either the dominance solvable guessing game or a Coordination version of the guessing game for five rounds. Afterwards they play a 3x3 normal form game for ten rounds with random matching which is either a game solvable through iterated elimination of dominated strategies (IEDS), a pure Coordination game or a Coordination game with pareto ranked equilibria. We find strong evidence that participants do extrapolate between games. Playing a strategically different game hurts compared to the control treatment where no guessing game is played before and in fact impedes convergence to Nash equilibrium in both the 3x3 IEDS and the Coordination games. Playing a strategically similar game before leads to faster convergence to Nash equilibrium in the second game. In the Coordination games some participants try to use the first game as a Coordination device. Our design and results allow us to conclude that participants do not only learn about the population and/or successful actions, but that they are also able to learn structural properties of the games.
    Keywords: Game Theory, Learning, Extrapolation
    JEL: C72 C91
    Date: 2010–11
  8. By: Andre Barreira da Silva Rocha
    Abstract: I use evolutionary game theory to address the relation between nationalism and immigration, studying how two different populations in a country, one composed of national citizens and the other of immigrants, evolve over time. Both populations depart from some polymorphic initial state. A national citizen may behave either nationalistically or may welcome immigrants. Immigrants may have an interest in learning the host country language or not. I also account for the presence of enclaves, which make the immigrants’ own population effects important. The results show that six types of evolutionary equilibria are possible, although they never co-exist in the state space. A low cost of learning the host country language leads to complete assimilation of immigrants over time. Enclaves make assimilation a less competitive strategy. A high cost of learning may lead to peaceful multiculturalism or to political instability depending on the ability of policy makers to prevent nationalistic attitudes.
    Date: 2010–11–12
  9. By: LOPEZ-PINTADO, Dunia (Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics, Sevilla, Spain; Université catholique de Louvain, CORE, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)
    Abstract: Some behaviors, ideas or technologies spread and become persistent in society, whereas others vanish. This paper analyzes the role of social influence in determining such distinct collective outcomes. Agents are assumed to acquire information from others through a certain sampling process that generates an influence network, and they use simple rules to decide whether to adopt or not depending on the observed sample. We characterize, as a function of the primitives of the model, the diffusion threshold (i.e., the spreading rate above which the adoption of the new behavior becomes persistent in the population) and the endemic state (i.e., the fraction of adopters in the stationary state of the dynamics). We find that the new behavior will easily spread in the population if there is a high correlation between how influential (visible) and how easily influenced an agent is, which is determined by the sampling process and the adoption rule. We also analyze how the density and variance of the out-degree distribution affect the diffusion threshold and the endemic state.
    Keywords: social influence, networks, diffusion threshold, endemic state
    JEL: C73 L14
    Date: 2010–12–01
  10. By: Kenju Kamei (Brown University); Louis Putterman (Brown University); Jean-Robert Tyran (University of Vienna)
    Abstract: The sanctioning of norm-violating behavior by an effective formal authority is an efficient solution for social dilemmas. It is in the self-interest of voters and is often favorably contrasted with letting citizens take punishment into their own hands. Allowing informal sanctions, by contrast, not only comes with a danger that punishments will be misapplied, but also should have no efficiency benefit under standard assumptions of self-interested agents. We experimentally investigate the relative effectiveness of formal vs. informal sanctions in the voluntary provision of public goods. Unsurprisingly, we find that effective formal sanctions are popular and efficient when they are free to impose. Surprisingly, we find that informal sanctions are often more popular and more efficient when effective formal sanctions entail a modest cost. The reason is that informal sanctions achieve more efficient outcomes than theory predicts, especially when the mechanism is chosen by voting.
    Keywords: sanction; social dilemma; public goods; voluntary contribution mechanism; punishment; experiment
    JEL: C92 C91 D71 H41
    Date: 2011–02

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