nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2015‒01‒19
five papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Socio-technical dynamics and political institutions: A multilevel Darwinian framework of sustainability transitions By G. Marletto
  2. Trust, Cooperative Behavior And Economic Success: When Trust Is The Capital Of The Person? By Alexander N. Tatarko
  3. Imitation under stress By Buckert, Magdalena; Oechssler, Jörg; Schwieren, Christiane
  4. Historical Conflict and State Development By Mark Dincecco; James Fenske; Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato
  5. The Informational Content of Surnames, the Evolution of Intergenerational Mobility and Assortative Mating By Maia Güell; José V. Rodríguez Mora; Christopher I. Telmer

  1. By: G. Marletto
    Abstract: The study of sustainability transitions (SUSTRANs) is an emerging research field that provides useful keys to understand how more sustainable ways to meet societal needs may emerge and develop. As stressed by some scholars, much more work is needed to make political institutions endogenous to SUSTRANs. This paper contributes to such a research endeavour by providing a simple conceptual framework based on multiple levels of Darwinian evolution. The evolutionary environment is defined by a societal function (e.g., urban mobility), which is fulfilled by socio-technical systems (STSs) (e.g., the car, public transport, the bicycle, etc.). Three levels of evolution are considered - a lower level, with firms; two higher levels, with innovation networks and socio-political communities, respectively. While competing within the same STS, firms cooperate within a socio-political community in order to back their STS, and compete with other – both existing and emerging – STSs that fulfil the same societal function. With this simple framework SUSTRANs can be represented as a multilevel evolutionary process that endogenously generate the needed favourable policies (FPs). A socio-political community supporting a new and more sustainable STS achieves the ability to induce FPs only if it is able to scale up – and reach a tipping point – in the cumulative causation process between the enlistment of new members and an increasing level of legitimation. The proposed framework can be applied not only to SUSTRANs, but to all socio-technical transitions, where power and competition can be considered as multilevel phenomena, and multi-industry dynamics are at centre stage.
    Keywords: Sustainability transition, Political institutions, Evolutionary, Group selection
    JEL: B52 Q56
    Date: 2014
  2. By: Alexander N. Tatarko (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: This article presents the results of study dedicated to the interrelation of trust, cooperative behavior and the size of the winning prize in the multi-way decision modified prisoners’ dilemma. The experiment was organized using a specially designed computer program. The study involved six groups of participants and each group consisted of 7 players. The experiment consisted of a series of 15 rounds and included preliminary and final testing. The study found that cooperative behavior within the members in the group had fallen during 11 rounds, but there was a tendency to improve it. The trust level of an individual and his/her choice of cooperative strategy in the first series of the experiment are interrelated. Generalized trust is a rather stable construct, but it does not remain unchanged with an actual reduction of cooperative behavior.
    Keywords: trust, cooperative behavior, prisoners’ dilemma, economic psychology
    JEL: D03
    Date: 2014
  3. By: Buckert, Magdalena; Oechssler, Jörg; Schwieren, Christiane
    Abstract: Imitating the best strategy from the previous period has been shown to be an important heuristic, in particular in relatively complex environments. In this experiment we test whether subjects are more likely to use imitation if they are under stress. Subjects play a repeated Cournot oligopoly. Treatments are time pressure within the task and distractions through a second task (a Stroop-task) that has to be performed as well and influences payment. We measure stress levels through salivary cortisol and heart rate. Our main findings are that time pressure and distraction can indeed raise physiological stress levels of subjects within our task. More importantly from an economic perspective, we can also observe a corresponding behavioral change that is indicative of imitation.
    Keywords: stress,cortisol,heart rate,imitation,experiment
    JEL: C91 C72 D74
    Date: 2014
  4. By: Mark Dincecco; James Fenske; Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato
    Abstract: We show that the long-run consequences of historical warfare are different for Sub-Saharan Africa than for the rest of the Old World. We identify the locations of over 1,750 conflicts in Africa, Asia, and Europe from 1400 to 1799. We find that historical warfare predicts greater state capacity today across the Old World, including in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is no significant correlation between historical warfare and current civil conflicts across the rest of the Old World. However, this correlation is strong and positive in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, while a history of conflict predicts higher per capita GDP for the rest of the Old World, this positive consequence is overturned for Sub-Saharan Africa.
    Date: 2014
  5. By: Maia Güell; José V. Rodríguez Mora; Christopher I. Telmer
    Abstract: We propose a new methodology for measuring intergenerational mobility in economic wellbeing. Our method is based on the joint distribution of surnames and economic outcomes. It circumvents the need for intergenerational panel data, a long-standing stumbling block for understanding mobility. It does so by using cross-sectional data alongside a calibrated structural model in order to recover the traditional intergenerational elasticity measures. Our main idea is simple. If "inheritance" is important for economic outcomes, then rare surnames should predict economic outcomes in the cross-section. This is because rare surnames are indicative of familial linkages. If the number of rare surnames is small this approach will not work. However, rare surnames are abundant in the highly-skewed nature of surname distributions from most Western societies. We develop a model that articulates this idea and shows that the more important is inheritance, the more informative will be surnames. This result is robust to a variety of different assumptions about fertility and mating. We apply our method using the 2001 census from Catalonia, a large region of Spain. We use educational attainment as a proxy for overall economic well-being. A calibration exercise results in an estimate of the intergenerational correlation of educational attainment of 0.60. We also find evidence suggesting that mobility has decreased among the different generations of the 20th century. A complementary analysis based on sibling correlations confirms our results and provides a robustness check on our method. Our model and our data allow us to examine one possible explanation for the observed decrease in mobility. We find that the degree of assortative mating has increased over time. Overall, we argue that our method has promise because it can tap the vast mines of census data that are available in a heretofore unexploited manner.
    Date: 2014–12

This nep-evo issue is ©2015 by Matthew Baker. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.