nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2015‒07‒18
five papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. "Land Productivity and Economic Development: Caloric Suitability vs. Agricultural Suitability" By Oded Galor; Omer Ozak
  2. Intransitivity in Theory and in the Real World By A. Y. Klimenko
  3. The Economic Legacy of Warfare: Evidence from Urban Europe By Mark Dincecco; Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato
  4. Patience and long-run growth By Hübner, Malte; Vannorrenberghe, Gonzague
  5. Christianity and Infant Health in India By Menon, Nidhiya; McQueeney, Kathleen

  1. By: Oded Galor; Omer Ozak
    Abstract: This paper establishes that the Caloric Suitability Index (CSI) dominates the commonly used measure of agricultural suitability in the examination of the effect of land productivity on comparative economic development. The analysis demonstrates that the agricultural suitability index does not capture the large variation in the potential caloric yield across equally suitable land, reflecting the fact that land suitable for agriculture is not necessarily suitable for the most caloric-intensive crops. Hence, in light of the instrumental role played by caloric yield in sustaining and supporting population growth, and given importance of pre-industrial population density for the subsequent course of economic development, the Caloric Suitability Index dominates the conventional measure in capturing the effect of land productivity on pre-colonial population density and the subsequent course of economic development.
    Keywords: Caloric Suitability, Agricultural Suitability, Agricultural Productivity, Land Productivity, Economic Development, Population Density
    Date: 2015
  2. By: A. Y. Klimenko
    Abstract: This work considers reasons for and implications of discarding the assumption of transitivity, which (transitivity) is the fundamental postulate in the utility theory of Von Neumann and Morgenstern, the adiabatic accessibility principle of Caratheodory and most other theories related to preferences or competition. The examples of intransitivity are drawn from different fields, such as law, biology, game theory, economics and competitive evolutionary dynamic. This work is intended as a common platform that allows us to discuss intransitivity in the context of different disciplines. The basic concepts and terms that are needed for consistent treatment of intransitivity in various applications are presented and analysed in a unified manner. The analysis points out conditions that necessitate appearance of intransitivity, such as multiplicity of preference criteria and imperfect (i.e. approximate) discrimination of different cases. The present work observes that with increasing presence and strength of intransitivity, thermodynamics gradually fades away leaving space for more general kinetic considerations. Intransitivity in competitive systems is linked to complex phenomena that would be difficult or impossible to explain on the basis of transitive assumptions. Human preferences that seem irrational from the perspective of the conventional utility theory, become perfectly logical in the intransitive and relativistic framework suggested here. The example of competitive simulations for the risk/benefit dilemma demonstrates the significance of intransitivity in cyclic behaviour and abrupt changes in the system. The evolutionary intransitivity parameter, which is introduced in the Appendix, is a general measure of intransitivity, which is particularly useful in evolving competitive systems. Quantum preferences are also considered in the Appendix.
    Date: 2015–07
  3. By: Mark Dincecco (University of Michigan); Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato (IMT Lucca Institute for Advanced Studies)
    Abstract: We show new evidence that the economic legacy of historical warfare persists to the present. Warfare was a key feature of European history. We argue that cities were safe harbors from war threats. War-related urbanization, in turn, had positive consequences for long-run development. We geocode the locations of more than 600 conflicts fought in Europe between 1300 and 1799. To measure urban economic activity, we gather satellite image data on light intensity at night for more than 500 cities between 2000 and 2010. We find a positive, significant, and robust relationship between historical conflict exposure and urban economic activity today. We find that human capital formation and local political representation are two channels through which the consequences of historical warfare are transmitted through time. Our results highlight the military origins of Europe’s prosperous urban belt.
    Keywords: Warfare, Cities, Political and Economic Development, Europe
    JEL: C20 O10 N40 N90 P48 R11
    Date: 2015–07
  4. By: Hübner, Malte; Vannorrenberghe, Gonzague
    Abstract: Complementing research on the effect of patience on individual behavior, we present empirical evidence that patience is an important determinant of long-run income differences between countries. To account for a potential endogeneity bias, we instrument patience by information on how languages spoken in the countries of our sample require speakers to encode time. The economic impact of patience and growth is sizable. Our results suggest that increasing patience by one standard deviation raises per-capita income by between 34% and 78%.
    Keywords: long-run growth; time-preferences; patience
    JEL: D91 O47 Z13
    Date: 2015–06–20
  5. By: Menon, Nidhiya (Brandeis University); McQueeney, Kathleen (Brandeis University)
    Abstract: This paper studies child health in India focusing on differences in anthropometric outcomes between the three main religions – Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The results indicate that Christian infants have higher height-for-age z-scores as compared to infants of other religious identities, and that this is especially true for infant girls in states with a relatively large Christian presence. We instrument for Christian identity today using data on the location of Protestant and Christian missions, the incidence of epidemic diseases and natural disasters, and political crises (wars) that mission establishing countries were engaged in during India's colonial history. The results are robust to a series of checks for instrument validity and omitted variables, and indicate that by inculcating awareness and spreading knowledge on sanitation and the scientific underpinnings of disease, the advent of Christianity has long-term health implications for India's children today.
    Keywords: child health, religion, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, India
    JEL: O12 I15 Z12
    Date: 2015–07

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