nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2013‒08‒31
nine papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The Times They Are a Changin': The Effect of Institutions on Behavior, Cooperation, Emotional Attachment and Sentiment at 26,000ft By David A. Savage; Benno Torgler
  2. Status Quo Effects in Fairness Games: Reciprocal Responses to Acts of Commission vs. Acts of Omission By James Cox; Maroš Servátka; Radovan Vadovič
  3. Language, Meaning, and Games: Comment By Heller, Yuval
  4. Who shows solidarity with the irresponsible? By Bolle, Friedel; Costard, Jano
  5. On Apparent Irrational Behaviors : Interacting Structures and the Mind By Pierre Gosselin; Aïleen Lotz; Marc Wambst
  6. Threshold models of technological transitions By Paolo Zeppini; Koen Frenken; Roland Kupers
  7. Desired Fertility and Children Born across Time and Space By Isabel Günther; Kenneth Harttgen
  8. Preferences, income, and life satisfaction: An equivalence result By Strulik, Holger
  9. Institutions and prosperity By Colin Jennings

  1. By: David A. Savage; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: This paper attempts to determine if the introduction of a competing social institution has had a significant effect and shifted the pro-social behavior in the extreme (life-and-death) environment of mountaineering in the Himalayan Mountains over the last sixty years. We apply an analytic narratives approach to empirically investigate the link between death, success and the introduced social institution (commercialization). We use the Hawley and Salisbury (2007) Himalayan Database to determine if the introduction of this social institution is responsible for the decline in pro-social and altruistic behaviors. The results show that the change helping behavior is strongly correlated with the on mass introduction of commercialization. The results show a weakening of the prosocial behavior in the more "traditional climbers" in the modern period, created by a crowding out effect, which may have lead to the break down in prosocial behavior and the rise of anti-social behavior. Additionally, the results indicate that the prosocial behavior of the non-commercial groups in recent times may in fact be driven by the behavior of the Sherpa and not that of the climbers.
    Keywords: Decision under Pressure; Altruism; Tragic Events; Disasters; Survival; Natural Field Experiment; Mountaineering
    JEL: D63 D64 D71 D81
    Date: 2013–05
  2. By: James Cox; Maroš Servátka (University of Canterbury); Radovan Vadovič
    Abstract: Both the law and culture make a central distinction between acts of commission that overturn the status quo and acts of omission that uphold it. In everyday life acts of commission often elicit stronger reciprocal responses than do acts of omission. In this paper we compare reciprocal responses to both types of acts and ask whether behavior of subjects in three experiments is consistent with existing theory. The design of the experiments focuses on the axioms of revealed altruism theory (Cox, Friedman, and Sadiraj, 2008) that make it observationally distinct from other theories. We find support for this theory in all three experiments.
    Keywords: Experimental economics, reciprocity, revealed altruism, acts of commission, acts of omission, other-regarding preferences, status quo
    JEL: C70 C91
    Date: 2013–08–09
  3. By: Heller, Yuval
    Abstract: Demichelis and Weibull (2008 AER) show that adding lexicographic lying costs to coordination games with cheap talk yields a sharp prediction: only the efficient outcome is evolutionarily stable. I demonstrate that this result is caused by the discontinuity of preferences, rather than by small lying costs per se.
    Keywords: Lexicographic preferences, evolutionary stability, cheap talk.
    JEL: C73
    Date: 2013–08–29
  4. By: Bolle, Friedel; Costard, Jano
    Abstract: In the Solidarity game lucky winners of a lottery can transfer part of their income to unlucky losers. Will losers get smaller transfers if they can be assumed to be responsible for their zero income because they have chosen riskier lotteries? Or will risk-lovers and riskaverters favor those who made the same risk-choice, leading to larger transfers within rather than between the risk-groups? While there is support for both motives in the literature, in an experiment we find that the effect of holding people responsible for their actions is overcome by behavior guided by in-group favoritism based on different levels of risk-taking. This behavior is successfully described by a variant of the social utility function suggested by Cappelen et al. (2013). -- Im Solidaritätsspiel können die glücklichen Gewinner einer Lotterie einen Teil ihres Gewinns den unglücklichen Verlierern überlassen. Erhalten die Verlierer eine geringere Kompensation, wenn sie dafür verantwortlich gemacht werden können, dass sie leer ausgingen, weil sie sich für eine riskantere Lotterie entschieden hatten? Oder bevorzugen risikofreudige und risikoscheue Spieler diejenigen, die sich für das jeweils gleiche Risikoniveau entschieden hatten? Während es in der Literatur Argumente für beide Motive gibt, zeigt sich im Experiment, dass Verlierer mehr Solidarität erfahren, wenn sie die gleiche Risikoentscheidung getroffen haben wie der Gewinner und dass damit das Motiv Spieler für ihre Entscheidung verantwortlich zu machen in den Hintergrund treten kann. Dieses Verhalten kann erfolgreich durch eine Variante der social utility function, wie sie von Cappelen et al. (2013) vorgeschlagen wurde, erklärt werden.
    Keywords: Risky Behaviour,Solidarity,Responsibility,In-Group Favoritism
    JEL: D3 D8
    Date: 2013
  5. By: Pierre Gosselin (IF - Institut Fourier - CNRS : UMR5582 - Université Joseph Fourier - Grenoble I); Aïleen Lotz (Cerca Trova - Aucune); Marc Wambst (IRMA - Institut de Recherche Mathématique Avancée - CNRS : UMR7501 - Université de Strasbourg)
    Abstract: We develop a general method to solve models of interactions between multiple and possibly strategic agents. Our model explains apparently irrational or biased behaviors in a person. We argue that these actions could result from several rational structures having different goals. Our main example is a model of three agents, "conscious", "unconscious", and "body". Our main result states that, for an agent whose unconscious and conscious goals differ, the unconscious may influence the conscious, either directly or indirectly, via a third agent, the body. This three-agent model describes behaviors such as craving, exces- sive smoking, or sleepiness, to delay or dismiss a task. One of the main result shows that the unconscious' strategic action crucially depends on whether the conscious' actions are complementary in time. When complementary, and if the conscious is not sensitive to un- conscious' messages, the unconscious may drive the conscious towards its goals by blurring physical needs. When not complementary, the unconscious may more easily reach his goal by influencing the conscious, be it directly or indirectly.
    Keywords: dual agent; conscious and unconscious; rationality; multi-rationality; consis- tency; choices and preferences; multi-agent model
    Date: 2013–08–13
  6. By: Paolo Zeppini; Koen Frenken; Roland Kupers
    Abstract: We present a systematic review of seven threshold models of technological transitions from physics, biology, economics and sociology. The very same phenomenon of a technological transition can be explained by very different logics, ranging from economic explanations based on price, performance and increasing returns to alternative explanations based on word-of-mouth recommendation, convergence of expectations, or social mimicking behaviour. Our review serves as a menu for future modelling exercises that can take one or more elementary transition models as a basis, and extend these model to fit more specific sectoral, technological or territorial contexts.
    Keywords: threshold models, technological transitions
    Date: 2013–08
  7. By: Isabel Günther (ETH Zurich); Kenneth Harttgen (ETH Zurich)
    Abstract: With about five children born per woman and a population growth rate of 2.5 per cent per year, sub-Saharan Africa has been the world’s fastest growing region over the last decade. Economists have often argued that high fertility rates are mainly driven by women’s demand for children (and not by family planning efforts) with low levels of unwanted fertility across countries (and hence with little room for family planning efforts to reduce population growth). We study the relationship between wanted fertility and number of children born in a panel of 200 country-years controlling for country characteristics and global trends. In general, we find a close relationship between wanted and actual fertility, with one desired child leading to one additional birth. However, our results also indicate that in the last 20 years the level of unwanted births has stayed at two across sub-Saharan Africa whereas it has decreased from one to zero in other developing countries. Hence, women in African countries are less able to translate child preferences into birth outcomes than women in other developing countries, i.e. leaving plenty of room for family planning efforts; and forces other than fertility demand have been important for fertility declines in other developing countries. Family planning efforts only partly explain the observed temporal and spatial differences in achieving desired fertility levels.
    Keywords: Fertility; Population Growth; Development; Population Policies
    JEL: J10 J13
    Date: 2013–08–23
  8. By: Strulik, Holger
    Abstract: In this paper I investigate the nexus between life time utility (life satisfaction) and income predicted by the standard model of endogenous economic growth under different behavioral assumptions. The solution rationalizes why the empirical association between income and life satisfaction is approximately log-linear. I show that the solution is observationally equivalent when individuals compare their consumption (i) with others, (ii) with their own past consumption achievements, and (iii) not at all (ordinary preferences). This finding suggests that the observed slope of the income - life satisfaction curve is uninformative about human behavior driven by referencedependent utility. In particular, the hypothesis that the flattening of the life satisfaction curve at high income levels indicates that people are comparing their consumption too much with others or own past achievements is not supported by the workhorse model of endogenous economic growth. --
    Keywords: status,habit formation,happiness,economic growth
    JEL: D90 E21 O40
    Date: 2013
  9. By: Colin Jennings (Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde)
    Abstract: This article reviews 'Pillars of Prosperity' by Timothy Besley and Torsten Persson and 'Why Nations Fail' by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. Both books are focussed on the role of institutions in determining the wealth of nations and the review compares and contrasts the different approaches contained in the two texts. The review also attempts to locate the texts within the broader literature in development and political economics and to link them to other recent work in these areas.
    Keywords: Institutions, Prosperity
    JEL: D7 N4 O1 O5 P5
    Date: 2013–08

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