nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2015‒07‒25
six papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Incorporating Phenotype Plasticity into the Indirect Evolutionary Approach By Schmitt, Rebecca
  2. The Agricultural Origins of Time Preference By Oded Galor; Ömer Özak
  3. Relational environment and intellectual roots of 'ecological economics': An orthodox or heterodox field of research? By Teixeira, Aurora A. C.; Castro e Silva, Manuela
  4. Does Sunstein and Thaler’s Theory Have a Broad Scope? By Akira Inoue; Kazumi Shimizu; Yoshiki Wakamatsu; Daisuke Udagawa
  5. On the Origins of Risk-Taking By Black, Sandra; Devereux, Paul J.; Lundborg, Petter; Majlesi, Kaveh
  6. Darwinian Adverse Selection By Wolfgang Kuhle

  1. By: Schmitt, Rebecca
    Abstract: Up to now, the Indirect Evolutionary Approach (IEA) has been based on phenotypes which are represented by unchangeable preference parameters and, as a consequence, by time-invariant utility functions. Here we introduce phenotype plasticity into the IEA by providing a model which includes changeable individual preference parameters. We show that such phenotype plasticity can be a stable phenomenon in a stable environment. For 2x2 symmetric evolutionary games, we identify conditions under which a population of non-plastic phenotypes can be invaded by mutants of a plastic phenotype, but not by mutants of a non-plastic phenotype.
    Keywords: Evolutionary Games, Indirect Evolution, Preference Theory, Taste, Instability of Preferences, Evolution of Preferences
    JEL: C73 D10 D11
    Date: 2015–07–15
  2. By: Oded Galor (Brown University); Ömer Özak (Southern Methodist University)
    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 the natural return to agricultural investment have had a persistent effect on the distribution of time preference 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 pre-industrial agro-climatic characteristics 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.
    Keywords: Time preference, Delayed Gratification, Culture, Agriculture, Economic Development, Evolution
    JEL: O1 Z1
    Date: 2014–05
  3. By: Teixeira, Aurora A. C.; Castro e Silva, Manuela
    Abstract: The way the fields are delineated has been the Achilles' heel of studies analyzing the status and evolution of given scientific areas. Based on van den Besselaar and Leydesdorff's (Mapping change in scientific specialities; a scientometric reconstruction of the development of artificial intelligence, 1996) contribution, the authors propose a systematic and objective method for delineating the field of ecological economics assuming that aggregated journal-journal citation relations is an appropriate indicator for the disciplinary organization of the sciences. They found that the relational scientific backbone of ecological economics comprises 7 main journals: American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Ecological Economics, Environment and Development Economics, Environmental and Resources Economics, Land Economics, Land Use Policy, and Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. From the 3727 articles published between 2005 and 2010 in the ecological economics field, and the corresponding 142 thousand citations two main outcomes emerged: 1) the intellectual frame of reference is overwhelmed by economists and environmental and resources economists with (renowned) ecological economists relatively underrepresented; 2) the building of an integrative knowledge domain is not apparent: on the one hand, ecological economics is seen to be an 'unbound' heterodox and multidisciplinary field, but on the other hand, and somewhat awkwardly, it is (still) heavily 'bound' by quantitative mainstream/ orthodox methodologies.
    Keywords: ecological economics,philosophy of science,bibliometrics
    JEL: C18 C8 Y10 Q57
    Date: 2015
  4. By: Akira Inoue (Ritsumeikan University); Kazumi Shimizu (Waseda University); Yoshiki Wakamatsu (Gakushuin University); Daisuke Udagawa (Hannan University)
    Abstract: Sunstein and Thaler’s theory aims to justify libertarian paternalism (LP), a particular version of paternalism which is in favor of policies that nudge people to choose in their own welfare-promoting direction. A normative ground of their theory for LP lies in understanding that human beings are devoid of rational capacities, as has been illuminated by many findings in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics. With this in hand, their theory goes so far as to endorse libertarian benevolence (LB), which is in favor of policies that nudge people to choose in a direction of promoting the welfare of third parties. In this paper, we examine whether this theory is broad enough so that LB can complement LP. To do so, we show the significance in their theory of a necessary (but implicitly presumed) condition for the LP- and LB-relevant cases, the condition of convergence. Since this condition is not easily met, the LP-relevant cases and especially the LB-relevant cases are much more limited than Sunstein and Thaler presume; the case of organ donation they regard as a typical LB-relevant case is exceptional. This seems a serious problem with Sunstein and Thaler’s theory, since it is meant to have a broad scope in such a way that nudges can reasonably be applied to some LB cases.
    Date: 2015–07
  5. By: Black, Sandra; Devereux, Paul J.; Lundborg, Petter; Majlesi, Kaveh
    Abstract: Risk-taking behavior is highly correlated between parents and their children; however, little is known about the extent to which these relationships are genetic or determined by environmental factors. We use data on stock market participation of Swedish adoptees and relate this to the investment behavior of both their biological and adoptive parents. We find that stock market participation of parents increases that of children by about 34% and that both pre-birth and post-birth factors are important. However, once we condition on having positive financial wealth, we find that nurture has a much stronger influence on risk-taking by children, and the evidence of a relationship between stock-holding of biological parents and their adoptive children becomes very weak. We find similar results when we study the share of financial wealth that is invested in stocks. This suggests that a substantial proportion of risk-attitudes and behavior is environmentally determined.
    Keywords: nature versus nurture; Portfolio choice; risk-taking
    JEL: D14 G11 J12
    Date: 2015–07
  6. By: Wolfgang Kuhle
    Abstract: We develop a model to study the role of rationality in economics and biology. The model's agents differ continuously in their ability to make rational choices. The agents' objective is to ensure their individual survival over time or, equivalently, to maximize profits. In equilibrium, however, rational agents who maximize their objective survival probability are, individually and collectively, eliminated by the forces of competition. Instead of rationality, there emerges a unique distribution of irrational players who are individually not fit for the struggle of survival. The selection of irrational players over rational ones relies on the fact that all rational players coordinate on the same optimal action, which leaves them collectively undiversified and thus vulnerable to aggregate risks.
    Date: 2015–07

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