nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2014‒03‒22
eleven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Fair and unfair punishers coexist in the Ultimatum Game By Pablo Branas-Garza; Antonio M. Espin; Benedikt Herrmann
  2. Social norms or low-cost heuristics? An experimental investigation of imitative behavior By Simona Cicognani; Luigi Mittone
  3. Beyond Extended Phenotype Evolution of extended identity in order to reconcile study of humanity with biological evolution By Mezgebo, Taddese
  4. Be Fruitful and Multiply? Moderate Fecundity and Long-Run Reproductive Success By Galor, Oded; Klemp, Marc
  5. Endogenous Preferences and Conformity: Evidence From a Pilot Experiment By Sergio Beraldo; Valerio Filoso; Marco Stimolo
  6. Culture: Persistence and Evolution By Francesco Giavazzi; Ivan Petkov; Fabio Schiantarelli
  7. Evolutionary Model of Moore’s Law By Kaldasch, Joachim
  8. Demographic transitions in Europe and the world By Frans J. Willekens
  9. Towards an evolutionary perspective on regional resilience By Ron Boschma
  10. The great divergence: A network approach By Lindner, Ines; Strulik, Holger
  11. The Quantity and Quality of Children: A Semi-Parametric Bayesian IV Approach By Frühwirth-Schnatter, Sylvia; Halla, Martin; Posekany, Alexandra; Pruckner, Gerald J.; Schober, Thomas

  1. By: Pablo Branas-Garza (Business School, Middlesex University London); Antonio M. Espin (GLOBE,Universidad de Granada; Departamento de Teoría e Historia Económica, Universidad de Granada); Benedikt Herrmann (Behavioural Economics Team, Institute for Health and Consumer Protection, Joint Research Centre, European Commission)
    Abstract: Fairness norms are crucial in understanding the emergence and enforcement of large-scale cooperation in human societies. The most widely applied framework in the study of human fairness is the Ultimatum Game (UG). In the UG, a proposer suggests how to split a sum of money with a responder. If the responder rejects the proposer’s offer, both players get nothing. Rejection of unfair offers is considered to be a form of punishment implemented by fair-minded individuals, who are willing to sacrifice their own resources in order to impose the fairness norm. However, an alternative interpretation is equally plausible: punishers might actually be using rejections in a competitive, spiteful fashion as a means to increase their relative standing. This hypothesis is in line with recent evidence demonstrating that “prosocial” and “antisocial” punishers coexist in other experimental games. Using two large-scale experiments, we explore the nature of UG punishers by analyzing their behavior in a Dictator Game. In both studies, we confirm the coexistence of two entirely different sub-populations: prosocial punishers, who behave fairly as dictators, and spiteful (antisocial) punishers, who are totally unfair. Such a result is fundamental for research on the foundations of punishment behavior employing the UG. We discuss how focusing only on the fairness-oriented part of human behavior might give rise to misleading conclusions regarding the evolution of cooperation and the behavioral underpinnings of stable social systems.
    Date: 2014–01
  2. By: Simona Cicognani; Luigi Mittone
    Abstract: This paper extends choice theory by allowing for the interaction between cognitive costs and social norms. We experimentally investigate the role of imitation when participants face a task which is costly in cognitive terms. We identify two main reasons for imitative behavior. First, individuals belonging to a community might want to conform to others to obey to social norms. Second, individuals might be boundedly rational and consider imitation as a decisional device when comparing alternatives is cognitively demanding. In order to disentangle the two effects, we devise a laboratory experiment with a novel experimental task in which we model the choice of different alternatives through high or low cognitive costs and feedback information provided to subjects. Our results provide evidence for imitative behavior only through the channel of beliefs regarding others’ performance. We also find a temporal pattern in the distribution of choices, both in the high-cost and low-cost cognitive conditions, that may represent another cognitive shortcut.
    Keywords: Social Norms, Cognitive Costs, Laboratory Experiments
    JEL: C92 D81 Z13
    Date: 2014
  3. By: Mezgebo, Taddese
    Abstract: The question: “How much of biological evolution based theories, as they are understood presently, apply to human behaviour?” is highly controversial and perhaps highly politicized as well. The inference that human beings are evolutionarily programmed to have urges toward aggression, rape, murder, adultery, genocide and so on is a politically rejected idea within the social sciences. To be politically correct those who use evolutionary framework do claim that people can learn or have capacity for self restraint. However it is not clearly understood, how such restraint can possibly evolve within the evolutionary framework. This paper argues that the missing link that explains such behavior is the concept of extended identity. How extended identity can evolve, following the framework of selfish gene, is explained by integrating theories related to selfish gene, institutional analysis, information economics and social capital literature. Archaeological evidence from evolutionary cognition is also used to show that such evolution could happen 4 million years ago (MYA).
    Keywords: extended identity, extended phenotype, selfish gene, asymmetric information, evolution, trust, social capital, imperfect information
    JEL: B52 J1 P00 Z10 Z13
    Date: 2014–03–13
  4. By: Galor, Oded (Brown University); Klemp, Marc (Brown University)
    Abstract: This research presents the first evidence that moderate fecundity was conducive for long-run reproductive success within the human species. Exploiting an extensive genealogy record for nearly half a million individuals in Quebec during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the study traces the number of descendants of early inhabitants in the subsequent four generations. Using the time interval between the date of marriage and the first live birth as a measure of reproductive capacity, the research establishes that while a higher fecundity is associated with a larger number of children, an intermediate level maximizes long-run reproductive success. The finding further indicates that the optimal level of fecundity was below the population median, suggesting that the forces of natural selection favored individuals with a lower level of fecundity. The research lends credence to the hypothesis that during the Malthusian epoch, natural selection favored individuals with a larger predisposition towards child quality, contributing to the onset of the demographic transition and the evolution of societies from an epoch of stagnation to sustained economic growth.
    Keywords: demography, evolution, natural selection, fecundity, quantity-quality trade-off, long-run reproductive success
    JEL: J10 O10
    Date: 2014–03
  5. By: Sergio Beraldo (Department of Economics, University of Napoli, Italy); Valerio Filoso (Department of Law, University of Napoli, Italy); Marco Stimolo (Department of Law, University of Napoli, Italy)
    Abstract: Conformity behavior, i.e., the agreement between an individual’s choices and the prevailing behavior of a reference group, is a commonly observed phenomenon. Though some types of social interactions may give raise to specific incentives to adopt either a majoritarian or a contrarian behavior, we want to investigate whether the same behavioral pattern emerges even when no economic motivator is present. To accomplish this task, we employ an experimental Vickrey median price auction designed to provide incentives to reveal individual preferences truthfully. Whereas we feed the control group with just the median price, we give out additional information on other players’ bids for those in the treated groups. These informations are designed to provide hints at revising individual bids. Our main results point to a strong tendency of the individuals to adapt their behavior to those of the individuals which can be observed. Moreover, although a clear shaping effect (a regression toward the median price) does emerge for the control group, the provision of information about the actual behavior of a sample of the relevant group is able to minimize or neutralize the shaping effect. Specifically, we find that players adjust to a divergence between their bids and the average bid of a reference group by a factor of 47.4%—87.3%. These figures point to a relevant role for conformity in group behavior.
    Keywords: Endogenous preferences, shaping effect, social conformity, Vickrey auction
    JEL: C91 C92 D44
    Date: 2014–03
  6. By: Francesco Giavazzi (Bocconi University); Ivan Petkov (Boston College); Fabio Schiantarelli (Boston College; IZA)
    Abstract: This paper presents evidence on the speed of evolution (or lack thereof) of a wide range of values and beliefs of different generations of European immigrants to the US. The main result is that persistence differs greatly across cultural attitudes. Some, for instance deep personal religious values, some fam-ily and moral values, and political orientation are very persistent. Other, such as attitudes toward cooperation, redistribution, effort, children independence, premarital sex, and even the frequency of religious practice or the intensity of association with one’s religion, converge rather quickly. Moreover, the results obtained studying higher generation immigrants differ greatly from those obtained limiting the analysis to the second generation, and imply lesser degree of persistence. Finally, we show that persistence is ”culture specific” in the sense that the country from which one’s ancestors came matters for the pattern of generational convergence.
    Keywords: Culture, Values, Beliefs, Transmission, Persistence, Evolution, Immigrants, Integration
    JEL: A13 F22 J00 J61 Z10
    Date: 2014–03–18
  7. By: Kaldasch, Joachim
    Abstract: Moore suggested an exponential growth of the number of transistors in integrated electronic circuits. In this paper, Moore’s law is derived from a preferential growth model of successive production technology generations. The theory suggests that products manufactured with a new production technology generating lower costs per unit have a competitive advantage on the market. Therefore, previous technology generations are replaced according to a Fisher-Pry law. Discussed is the case that a production technology is governed by a cost relevant characteristic. If this characteristic is bounded by a technological or physical boundary, the presented evolutionary model predicts an asymptotic approach to this limit. The model discusses the wafer size evolution and the long term evolution of Moore’s law for the case of a physical boundary of the lithographic production technology. It predicts that the miniaturization process of electronic devices will slow down considerably in the next two decades.
    Keywords: Evolutionary Economics, Moore's law, Technology Evolution
    JEL: O3 O33
    Date: 2014–03–09
  8. By: Frans J. Willekens (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)
    Abstract: The demographic transition is a universal phenomenon. All regions of the world experience a change from high levels of mortality and fertility to low levels. The onset and pace of the demographic transition vary between regions and countries because of differences in timing of events and conditions that trigger the transition. As a consequence, we observe diverging trends in population growth and ageing around the world. The paper shows that transitions in mortality, fertility and migration have several features in common. Demographic transitions are intertwined with science and technology, the economy, cultural change and social and political processes. The interaction between these processes take place at the level of the individual, not at the population level. The human desire for a long and fulfilling life is the main driver of demographic change. Science and technology provide instruments to control demographic processes but the use of these instruments is conditioned by economic and cultural change. Individuals are more likely to act if they are aware that they can influence the outcome of their action, the outcome is beneficial and they have the instruments to exercise control. The pace of a transition depends on (a) diffusion processes that govern the transmission of values, preferences, norms and practices and (b) inertia in a population due to its composition. Keywords: Demographic transition, path dependence, diffusion, agency, demographic dividends
    Keywords: demographic transition
    JEL: J1 Z0
    Date: 2014–03
  9. By: Ron Boschma
    Abstract: This paper proposes an evolutionary perspective on regional resilience. We conceptualize resilience not just as the ability of a region to accommodate shocks, but we extend it to the long-term ability of regions to develop new growth paths. We propose a comprehensive view on regional resilience, in which history is key to understand how regions develop new growth paths, and in which industrial, network and institutional dimensions of resilience come together. Resilient regions are capable of overcoming a trade-off between adaptation and adaptability, as embodied in their industrial (related and unrelated variety), network (open, loosely coupled) and institutional (loosely coherent) structures.
    Date: 2014–03
  10. By: Lindner, Ines; Strulik, Holger
    Abstract: We present a multi-country theory of economic growth in which countries are connected by a network of mutual knowledge exchange. Growth is generated through human capital accumulation and knowledge externalities. The available knowledge in any country depends on its connections to the rest of the world and on the human capital of the countries it is exchanging knowledge with. We show how the diffusion of knowledge through the world explains the evolution of global income inequality. It generates a Great Divergence, that is increasing world inequality after the take-off of the forerunners of the industrial revolution, followed by a Great Convergence, that is decreasing world inequality after the take-off of the latecomers of the industrial revolution. Knowledge diffusion through a Small World network produces an extraordinary diversity of individual growth experiences of initially identical countries including differentiated take-offs to growth as well as overtaking and falling behind in the course of world development. --
    Keywords: networks,knowledge diffusion,economic growth,world income distribution
    JEL: O10 O40 D62 D85 F41
    Date: 2014
  11. By: Frühwirth-Schnatter, Sylvia (Vienna University of Economics and Business); Halla, Martin (University of Linz); Posekany, Alexandra (Vienna University of Economics and Business); Pruckner, Gerald J. (University of Linz); Schober, Thomas (University of Linz)
    Abstract: Prior empirical research on the theoretically proposed interaction between the quantity and the quality of children builds on exogenous variation in family size due to twin births and focuses on human capital outcomes. The typical finding can be described as a statistically nonsignificant two-stage least squares (2SLS) estimate, with substantial standard errors. We regard these conclusions of no empirical support for the quantity-quality trade-off as premature and, therefore, extend the empirical approach in two ways. First, we add health as an additional outcome dimension. Second, we apply a semi-parametric Bayesian IV approach for econometric inference. Our estimation results substantiate the finding of a zero effect: we provide estimates with an increased precision by a factor of approximately twenty-three, for a broader set of outcomes.
    Keywords: quantity-quality model of fertility, family size, human capital, health, semi-parametric Bayesian IV approach
    JEL: J13 C26 C11 I20 J20 I10
    Date: 2014–03

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