nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2014‒06‒02
six papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Long-Term Barriers to Economic Development By Spolaore, Enrico; Wacziarg, Romain
  2. Fairness Ideals, Hidden Selfishness and Opportunist Behavior:An Experimental Approach By Natsuka Tokumaru
  3. The Biogeographic Origins of Novelty-Seeking Traits By Erkan Gören
  4. On the Robustness of Emotions and Behavior in a Power-to-Take Game Experiment By Fabio Galeotti
  5. Evolutionary growth of knowledge and new technological directions of non-thermal plasma technology in medicine By Mario Coccia; Ugo Finardi
  6. Culture, Beliefs and Economic Performance By Rafael Di Tella; Robert MacCulloch

  1. By: Spolaore, Enrico; Wacziarg, Romain
    Abstract: What obstacles prevent the most productive technologies from spreading to less developed economies from the world’'s technological frontier? In this paper, we seek to shed light on this question by quantifying the geographic and human barriers to the transmission of technologies. We argue that the intergenerational transmission of human traits, particularly culturally transmitted traits, has led to divergence between populations over the course of history. In turn, this divergence has introduced barriers to the diffusion of technologies across societies. We provide measures of historical and genealogical distances between populations, and document how such distances, relative to the world'’s technological frontier, act as barriers to the diffusion of development and of specific innovations. We provide an interpretation of these results in the context of an emerging literature seeking to understand variation in economic development as the result of factors rooted deep in history.
    Keywords: diffusion of innovations; genetic distance; intergenerational transmission; Long-run growth
    JEL: O11 O33 O40 O57
    Date: 2013–09
  2. By: Natsuka Tokumaru
    Abstract: Economic experiments have shown that human incentives are not only limited to the profit-maximizing principle but also motivated by fairness. Those studies presuppose that individuals commit to fixed value systems and that experimental institutions invoke fairness ideals. This paper shows that participants strategically select fairness ideals advantageous for self-distribution. Participants whose relative earnings are higher than those of their pairs adhere to a liberalist fairness ideal, whereas those with lower relative earnings prefer an egalitarian distribution of money. This reflects that individuals commit opportunistic behavior as a result of resolving a cognitive dissonance between material utility and fairness.
    Keywords: Economic Experiment, Fairness Ideals, Cognitive Dissonance, Hidden Selfishness, Opportunistic Behavior
    Date: 2014–04
  3. By: Erkan Gören (University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: This paper empirically investigates the biogeographic determinants of the human DRD4 exon III locus, a particular gene variant associated with the human personality trait of novelty-seeking behavior. Providing a novel compilation of worldwide DRD4 exon III allele frequencies in a large sample of indigenous populations around the world, this study employs population-specific biogeographic characteristics using hig h-resolution geospatial data. The estimates suggest that migratory distance from East Africa naturally selects for specific novelty-seeking traits, even controlling for a broad range of biogeographic determinants. Notably, land suitability for pastoral nomadism is significantly related to DRD4 exon III diversity. This result provides further credence to the general observation that novelty-seeking traits are quite common in nomadic populations, explaining why some societies failed to settle and to develop centralized states.
    Keywords: Novelty-Seeking Behavior, Entrepreneurial Traits, Biogeography, Out of Africa Hypothesis, Gene-Culture Co-Evolution, Natural Selection
    JEL: N50 O10 Z10
    Date: 2014–05
  4. By: Fabio Galeotti (University of East Anglia)
    Abstract: An important branch of economic research on emotions has used power-to-take game experiments to study the impact of negative emotions, such as anger, irritation and contempt, on the decision to punish. We investigate experimentally to what extent the findings of this literature are driven by the particular punishment technology adopted, and whether the experience and background of the participants affect behavior and emotions in this context. We found that (a) negative emotions do still play an important role when the potential relevant confound is removed from the punishment technology; (b) subjects display a similar behavior under a punishment technology with a constant and variable ‘fine-to-fee’ ratio; (c) previous experience mediates how contempt impacts on the decision to punish; and (d) non-UK students experience similar emotions to UK students, but generally appropriate more resources than UK students.
    Date: 2013
  5. By: Mario Coccia (Ceris - Institute for Economic Research on Firms and Growth,Turin, Italy); Ugo Finardi (Ceris - Institute for Economic Research on Firms and Growth,Turin, Italy)
    Abstract: The paper analyzes the evolution of scientific production and patenting, main proxies of scientific and technological breakthroughs, concerning non-thermal plasma for biomedical applications in order to detect emerging technological trajectories. New scientific directions of non-thermal plasma in medicine play a critical role because they might generate important innovations that could change the clinical practice. Occurrences of scientific products and patents are retrieved with Boolean queries on SciVerse database after a meticulous procedure to delineate the most promising applications in biomedical sciences. Data are analyzed with two methodological approaches: an exponential model of growth and regression analysis. Results show high rates of scientific growth for applications of non-thermal plasma in disinfection, anticancer treatments, dermatology, whereas for surgery, although values of occurrences are similar to the other research fields, it shows a different trend that after the 2005 is decreasing due to the peculiar application to materials for implantation. Some arguments are discussed at the end of the paper.
    Keywords: Non Thermal Plasma, Technological Trajectories, Plasma, Cancer, Medicine
    JEL: O30 I31
    Date: 2013–06
  6. By: Rafael Di Tella (Harvard Business School); Robert MacCulloch (University of Auckland)
    Abstract: Beliefs are one component of culture. Data from the World Values Survey is available on a subset of beliefs concerning (broadly) meritocracy and poverty that appear relevant for economics. We document how they vary as well as their distribution across countries. We then correlate these measures of beliefs with economic growth and compare them with institutional and geographical determinants of income. A strong negative relationship is found between leftist economic beliefs and growth but little evidence is found of a relationship with respect to non-economic beliefs. Finally, we briefly discuss some causal effects on beliefs. The evidence suggests that higher country risk and more dependence on natural resources shifts nations to a more leftist set of economic beliefs. Overall the evidence supports the view that cultural specificities may explain why certain institutions cannot be transplanted between nations with different cultural histories and underlines the limit to policy activism.
    Keywords: Beliefs, institutions, causality
    JEL: P16 E62
    Date: 2014–05

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