nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2015‒05‒09
eight papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The Nature of Conflict By Cemal Eren Arbatli; Quamrul H. Ashraf; Oded Galor
  2. Regulating the Environmental Consequences of Preferences for Social Status within an Evolutionary Framework By Eftichios S. Sartzetakis; Anastasios Xepapadeas; Athanasios Yannacopoulos
  3. Cultural Norms and Identity in Coordination Games By Jo Laban Peryman; David Kelsey
  4. Strategic teaching and learning in games By Burkhard Schipper
  5. Genetic Distance and Cognitive Human Capital: A Cross-National Investigation By Oasis Kodila-Tedika; Simplice Asongu
  6. The Mortality Transition, Malthusian Dynamics, and the Rise of Poor Mega-Cities By Remi Jedwab; Dietrich Vollrath
  7. Climatic Fluctuations and the Diffusion of Agriculture By Quamrul Ashraf; Stelios Michalopoulos
  8. Optimal Child-Related Transfers with Endogenous Fertility By Andras Simonovits

  1. By: Cemal Eren Arbatli (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Quamrul H. Ashraf (Williams College); Oded Galor (Brown University)
    Abstract: This research establishes that the emergence, prevalence, recurrence, and severity of intrastate conflicts in the modern era reflect the long shadow of prehistory. Exploiting variations across national populations, it demonstrates that genetic diversity, as determined predominantly during the exodus of humans from Africa tens of thousands of years ago, has contributed significantly to the frequency, incidence, and onset of both overall and ethnic civil conflict over the last half-century, accounting for a large set of geographical and institutional correlates of conflict, as well as measures of economic development. Furthermore, the analysis establishes the significant contribution of genetic diversity to the intensity of social unrest and to the incidence of intragroup factional conflict. These findings arguably reflect the contribution of genetic diversity to the degree of fractionalization and polarization across ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups in the national population; the adverse influence of genetic diversity on interpersonal trust and cooperation; the contribution of genetic diversity to divergence in preferences for public goods and redistributive policies; and the potential impact of genetic diversity on economic inequality within a society.
    Keywords: Civil conflict, genetic diversity, fractionalization, polarization, interpersonal trust, preferences for public goods, economic inequality
    JEL: D74 N30 N40 O11 O43 Z13
    Date: 2015–04
  2. By: Eftichios S. Sartzetakis (University of Macedonia, Department of Economics); Anastasios Xepapadeas (Athens University of Economics and Business and Beijer Fellow); Athanasios Yannacopoulos (Athens University of Economics and Business)
    Abstract: Taking as given that we are consuming too much and that overconsumption leads to environmental degradation, the present paper examines the regulator's choices between informative advertisement and consumption taxation. We model overconsumption by considering individuals that care about social status apart from the intrinsic utility, derived from direct consumption. We assume that there also exist individuals that care only about their own private consumption and we examine the evolution of preferences through time by allowing individuals to alter their behavior as a result of a learning process, akin to a replicator dynamics type. We consider the regulator's choice of consumption taxation and informative advertisement both in an arbitrary and an optimal control context. In the arbitrary overconsumption control context we find that the regulator could decrease, or even eliminate, the share of status seekers in the population. In the context of optimal overconsumption control, we show that the highest welfare is attained when status seekers are completely eliminated, while the lowest in the case that the entire population consists of status seekers.
    Keywords: Status-seaking, Replicator Dynamics, Information Provision, Environmental Taxation
    JEL: Q53 Q58 D62 D82
    Date: 2015–04
  3. By: Jo Laban Peryman (RMIT University, Melbourne); David Kelsey (Department of Economics, University of Exeter)
    Abstract: We run experiments with a stag hunt and bargaining coordination game. Using a between-subjects design, we vary the identity of the opponent between someone of the same culture or a different culture. The idea is to see whether cultural norms or identity play a part in coordination decisions. We compare the responses of British and Asian students at the University of Exeter and show the cultural identity of the opponent by physical appearance. The players appear to use cultural stereotypes to predict behaviour, especially in the bargaining game which may require more strategic thought than the stag hunt game. In particular, the British act in way that indicates they believe the Asians will behave more cautiously than other British. According to our results, the stereotype of Asians being cautious is misleading.
    Keywords: culture,identity, norms, coordination, bargaining
    JEL: C29 C71 C72 Z13
    Date: 2015
  4. By: Burkhard Schipper (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)
    Abstract: It is known that there are uncoupled learning heuristics leading to Nash equilibrium in all finite games. Why should players use such learning heuristics and where could they come from? We show that there is no uncoupled learning heuristic leading to Nash equilibrium in all finite games that a player has an incentive to adopt, that would be "evolutionary stable" or that "could learn itself". Rather, a player has an incentive to strategically teach such a learning opponent in order secure at least the Stackelberg leader payoff. The impossibility result remains intact when restricted to the classes of generic games, two-player games, potential games, games with strategic complements or 2x2 games, in which learning is known to be "nice". More generally, it also applies to uncoupled learning heuristics leading to correlated equilibria, rationalizable outcomes, iterated admissible outcomes, or minimal curb sets. A possibility result restricted to "strategically trivial" games fails if some generic games outside this class are considered as well.
    Keywords: Learning in games, learning heuristics, learning rules, interactive learning, uncoupled learning, meta-learning, reputation, Nash equilibrium, correlated equilibrium, rationalizability, iterated admissibility, minimal curb sets, dominance solvable games, common interest games
    JEL: C72 C73
    Date: 2015–04–14
  5. By: Oasis Kodila-Tedika (Université de Kinshasa Département d’Eco); Simplice Asongu (Yaoundé/Cameroun)
    Abstract: This paper explores the determinants of intelligence by focusing on the role played by barriers to the diffusion of competence and human capital. The results based on cross-sectional data from 167 countries consisting of 1996-2009 averages suggest that, genetic distance to global frontiers has a negative relationship with human capital. Countries that are genetically far from leading nations tend to have lower levels of human capital with the negative correlation from the USA frontier higher relative to the UK frontier. The sign is consistent with the relationship of genetic diversity and robust to the control of macroeconomic, geographical, institutional and influential variables. Policy implications are discussed.
    Keywords: Intelligence, Human Capital, Genetic distance
    JEL: G15 O50 O16 F15 N7
    Date: 2015–04
  6. By: Remi Jedwab (Department of Economics/Institute for International Economic Policy, George Washington University); Dietrich Vollrath
    Abstract: The largest cities in the world today lie mainly in relatively poor countries, which is a departure from historical experience, when the largest cities were typically found in the richest places. Using new data on the demographic history of the 100 largest mega-cities of today, we establish several new stylized facts distinguishing poor mega-cities from historically rich mega-cities. To account for these facts we develop a model that combines Malthusian models of endogenous population growth with urban models of agglomeration and congestion, and it shows that the absolute growth of the urban population determines whether a city becomes a poor or rich mega-city. We posit that poor mega-cities arose in part because the post-war mortality transition raised their absolute growth above a crucial threshold. Poor mega-cities continue to grow in size but not in living standards because their poverty keeps population growth high. By expanding prior to the mortality transition, historical mega-cities experienced smaller absolute growth that allowed them to sustain wage growth and kept population growth relatively low.
    Keywords: Urban Malthusianism, Demographic Regime, Megacities, Congestion, Growth
    JEL: O11 O14 O18 L16 N10 N90 R10
    Date: 2015–01
  7. By: Quamrul Ashraf (Williams College); Stelios Michalopoulos (Brown University)
    Abstract: This research examines the climatic origins of the diffusion of Neolithic agriculture across countries and archaeological sites. The theory suggests that a foraging society's history of climatic shocks shaped the timing of its adoption of farming. Specifically, as long as climatic disturbances did not lead to a collapse of the underlying resource base, the rate at which hunter-gatherers were climatically propelled to experiment with their habitats determined the accumulation of tacit knowledge complementary to farming. Consistent with the proposed hypothesis, the empirical investigation demonstrates that, conditional on biogeographic endowments, climatic volatility has a hump-shaped effect on the timing of the adoption of agriculture.
    Keywords: Hunting and gathering, agriculture, Neolithic Revolution, climatic volatility, Broad Spectrum Revolution, technological progress
    JEL: N50 O11 O13 O31 O33 O44 O57 Q56 Z13
    Date: 2014–04
  8. By: Andras Simonovits (Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, also Mathematical Institute of Budapest University of Technology, and Department of Economics of CEU)
    Abstract: To compare the systems of child benefits and of family tax deductions, we create a model with endogenous fertility and a basic income, financed from proportional wage taxes. The deduction's efficiency is presumably lower than the benefit's and may even be lower than that of pure basic income.
    Keywords: progressive income tax, child benefits, family tax deductions, endogenous fertility
    JEL: J13
    Date: 2015–02

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