nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2014‒11‒28
four papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The Diffusion of Development: Along Genetic or Geographic Lines? By Douglas L. Campbell; Ju Hyun Pyun
  2. The Agricultural Origins of Time Preference By Oded Galor; Ömer Özak
  3. Does classical liberalism imply an evolutionary approach to policy-making? By Schnellenbach, Jan
  4. The Effects of Mortality on Fertility: Population Dynamics after a Natural Disaster By Jenna Nobles; Elizabeth Frankenberg; Duncan Thomas

  1. By: Douglas L. Campbell (New Economic School (NES)); Ju Hyun Pyun (Korea University Business School)
    Abstract: Why are some societies still poor? Recent research suggests that a country’s “genetic distance”—a measure of the time elapsed since two populations had common ancestry—from the United States is a significant predictor of development even after controlling for an ostensibly exhaustive list of geographic, historical, religious and linguistic variables. We find, by contrast, that the correlation of genetic distance from the US and GDP per capita disappears with the addition of controls for geography, including distance from the equator and a dummy for sub-Saharan Africa.
    Keywords: Genetic Distance, Economic Development, Geography, Climatic Similarity, Technological Diffusion
    JEL: O10 O33 O49
    Date: 2014–11
  2. By: Oded Galor; Ömer Özak
    Abstract: This research explores the origins of the distribution of time preference across regions. It advances the hypothesis, and establishes empirically, that geographical variations in natural land productivity and their impact on the return to agricultural investment have had a persistent effect on the distribution of long-term orientation across societies. In particular, exploiting a natural experiment associated with the expansion of suitable crops for cultivation in the course of the Columbian Exchange, the research establishes that agro-climatic characteristics in the pre-industrial era that were conducive to higher return to agricultural investment, triggered selection and learning processes that had a persistent positive effect on the prevalence of long-term orientation in the contemporary era.
    JEL: O1 O4 Z1
    Date: 2014–08
  3. By: Schnellenbach, Jan
    Abstract: This paper argues that an evolutionary approach to policy-making, which emphasizes openness to change and political variety, is particularly compatible with the central tenets of classical liberalism. The chief reasons are that classical liberalism acknowledges the ubiquity of uncertainty, as well as heterogeneity in preferences and beliefs, and generally embraces gradual social and economic change that arises from accidental variation rather than deliberate, large-scale planning. In contrast, our arguments cast doubt on a different claim, namely that classical liberalism is particularly compatible with the evolutionary biological heritage of humans.
    Keywords: classical liberalism,evolution,Darwinism,economic policy,cultural evolution,institutional evolution
    Date: 2014
  4. By: Jenna Nobles; Elizabeth Frankenberg; Duncan Thomas
    Abstract: Understanding how mortality and fertility are linked is essential to the study of population dynamics. We investigate the fertility response to an unanticipated mortality shock that resulted from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed large shares of the residents of some Indonesian communities but caused no deaths in neighboring communities. Using population-representative multilevel longitudinal data, we identify a behavioral fertility response to mortality exposure, both at the level of a couple and in the broader community. We observe a sustained fertility increase at the aggregate level following the tsunami, which is driven by two behavioral responses to mortality exposure. First, mothers who lost one or more children in the disaster are significantly more likely to bear additional children after the tsunami. This response explains about 13 percent of the aggregate increase in fertility. Second, women without children before the tsunami initiated family-building earlier in communities where tsunami-related mortality rates were higher, indicating that the fertility of these women is an important route to rebuilding the population in the aftermath of a mortality shock. Such community-level effects have received little attention in demographic scholarship.
    JEL: J11 J13 O1
    Date: 2014–09

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