nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2015‒07‒04
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Ancestry, Language and Culture By Enrico Spolaore; Romain Wacziarg
  2. 'Expectations formation under adaptive learning and evolutionary dynamics.' By Michele Berardi
  3. Entrepreneurial Regions: Do Macro-psychological Cultural Characteristics of Regions help solve the “Knowledge Paradox” of Economics? By Obschonka, Martin; Stuetzer, Michael; Gosling, Samuel D.; Rentfrow, Peter J.; Lamb, Michael E.; Potter, Jeff; Audretsch, David B.
  4. Stable Biased Sampling By Samuel Häfner
  5. The Role of Historical Resource Scarcity in Modern Gender Inequality By Sudipta Sarangi; Chandan Jha; Gautam Hazarika
  6. Mentalism versus behaviourism in economics: a philosophy-of-science perspective By Franz Dietrich; Christian List
  7. The Two Revolutions, Landed Elites and Education during the Industrial Revolution By Duarte Nuno Leite; Óscar Afonso; Sandra Tavares Silva

  1. By: Enrico Spolaore; Romain Wacziarg
    Abstract: We explore the interrelationships between various measures of cultural distance. We first discuss measures of genetic distance, used in the recent economics literature to capture the degree of relatedness between countries. We next describe several classes of measures of linguistic, religious, and cultural distances. We introduce new measures of cultural distance based o differences in average answers to questions from the World Values Survey. Using a simple theoretical model we hypothesize that ancestral distance, measured by genetic distance, is positively correlated with linguistic, religious, and cultural distance. An empirical exploration of these correlations shows this to be the case. This empirical evidence is consistent with the view that genetic distance is a summary statistic for a wide array of cultural traits transmitted intergenerationally.
  2. By: Michele Berardi
    Abstract: Bounded rationality requires assumptions about ways in which rationality is constrained, and different assumptions are likely to lead to different economic predictions. In a simple forward-looking model we compare adaptive learning and evolutionary dynamics as means to model the process of beliefs' adaptation in response to observed outcomes. We show that the two methods deliver different conclusions about equilibrium and transition dynamics, and we try to shed some light on the reasons for such discrepancies.
    Date: 2015
  3. By: Obschonka, Martin; Stuetzer, Michael; Gosling, Samuel D.; Rentfrow, Peter J.; Lamb, Michael E.; Potter, Jeff; Audretsch, David B.
    Abstract: In recent years, modern economies have shifted away from being based on physical capital and towards being based on new knowledge (e.g., new ideas and inventions). Consequently, contemporary economic theorizing and key public policies have been based on the assumption that resources for generating knowledge (e.g., education, diversity of industries) are essential for regional economic vitality. However, policy makers and scholars have discovered that, contrary to expectations, the mere presence of, and investments in, new knowledge does not guarantee a high level of regional economic performance (e.g., high entrepreneurship rates). To date, this “knowledge paradox” has resisted resolution. We take an interdisciplinary perspective to offer a new explanation, hypothesizing that “hidden” regional culture differences serve as a crucial factor that is missing from conventional economic analyses and public policy strategies. Focusing on entrepreneurial activity, we hypothesize that the statistical relation between knowledge resources and entrepreneurial vitality (i.e., high entrepreneurship rates) in a region will depend on “hidden” regional differences in entrepreneurial culture. To capture such “hidden” regional differences, we derive measures of entrepreneurship-prone culture from two large personality datasets from the United States (N = 935,858) and Great Britain (N = 417,217). In both countries, the findings were consistent with the knowledge-culture-interaction hypothesis. A series of nine additional robustness checks underscored the robustness of these results. Naturally, these purely correlational findings cannot provide direct evidence for causal processes, but the results nonetheless yield a remarkably consistent and robust picture in the two countries. In doing so, the findings raise the idea of regional culture serving as a new causal candidate, potentially driving the knowledge paradox; such an explanation would be consistent with research on the psychological characteristics of entrepreneurs.
    Keywords: Innovation; Personality; Knowledge; Culture; Entrepreneurship; Psychology; Regions; Cities
    JEL: L26 M13 O3
    Date: 2015–06
  4. By: Samuel Häfner (University of Basel)
    Abstract: This paper presents a model in which sampling biases are evolutionary stable. We consider the sampling best response dynamics for a two-strategy population game having a unique equilibrium that is in mixed strategies. Allowing players to use differingsampling procedures, we model evolutionary competition between such procedures witha variant of the replicator dynamics that discriminates on the basis of average fitnessamong players with the same procedure. Using results on slow-fast systems, we findthat the sampling bias in stable procedures is generically non-zero, that the size of thebias is the more extreme the closer the mixed equilibrium is to the boundary of (0,1),and that, if sample size increases, then the bias eventually decreases. Based on theseobservations, we argue that the presence of biases can be explained by an evolutionarysecond-best effect correcting for suboptimal choices induced by playing best responseto small samples.
    Keywords: Sampling Best Response Dynamics, Sampling Bias, Evolutionary Second-Best, Two-Speed Dynamics
    JEL: C73 D83
    Date: 2015
  5. By: Sudipta Sarangi; Chandan Jha; Gautam Hazarika
    Abstract: We propose that historical resource scarcity played a role in the evolution of gender norms inimical to women, cultures that persists to this day. This is a plausible thesis for three reasons. First, male dominance in some species of non-human primate may have been shaped by their resource environments. Second, the prehistoric human skeletal record suggests scarcity led to decline in girls’ share of nutrition in parts of the world. Third, poverty is observed to contribute to gender bias in intra-household resource allocations in less developed countries. The proposition that historical habitual scarcity may have engendered cultures of gender inequality is supported by our finding that nations’ historical resource endowments, measured by the availability of arable land, are negatively related to their present levels of gender inequality as gauged by, for example, the UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index. It is supported as well in analyses at the sub-national level, which discover there are fewer missing women in districts of India better endowed with rainfall and cultivable land, and less bigotry in regard to the rights and abilities of women in sub-national regions of the world whose ancestral lands are better suited to agriculture. JEL Codes: D03, J16, N30
  6. By: Franz Dietrich; Christian List
    Abstract: Behaviourism is the view that preferences, beliefs, and other mental states in social-scientific theories are nothing but constructs re-describing people’s behaviour. Mentalism is the view that they capture real phenomena, on a par with the unobservables in science, such as electrons and electromagnetic fields. While behaviourism has gone out of fashion in psychology, it remains influential in economics, especially in ‘revealed preference’ theory. We defend mentalism in economics, construed as a positive science, and show that it fits best scientific practice. We distinguish mentalism from, and reject, the radical neuroeconomic view that behaviour should be explained in terms of brain processes, as distinct from mental states.
    Keywords: mentalism; behaviourism; revealed preference; decision theory; scientific realism
    JEL: J1
    Date: 2015
  7. By: Duarte Nuno Leite (Munich Cenyter for Economics of Aging); Óscar Afonso (University of Porto, Faculty of Economics); Sandra Tavares Silva (University of Porto, Faculty of Economics)
    Abstract: How we are to understand the Industrial Revolution, the process of transition from a Malthusian equilibrium to today’s Modern Economic Growth, has been the subject of passionate debate. This paper adds more insights to the process of industrialization and the demographic transition that followed this period. By applying the theory of interest groups to landownership and by analyzing landed elites incentives to allow education, it is shown that their political power is important for an understanding of the main events that marked the Industrial Revolution. Contributions are also made to the existence and role of the Agricultural Revolution. It is advanced that it played a significant role in hastening the process of industrialization. A model and numerical simulations are presented to demonstrate these results.
    Keywords: Industrial and Agricultural Revolution; Demographic Transition; Education; Interest Groups.
    JEL: N53 O13 O14 O43
    Date: 2015–06

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