nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2015‒08‒07
four papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The Neolithic Revolution and Human Societies: Diverse Origins and Development Paths By Svizzero, Serge; Tisdell, Clem
  2. Paternalism, Cultural Transmission and Diffusion on Complex Networks By Panebianco, Fabrizio; Verdier, Thierry
  3. Abstract Economies with Endogenous Sharing Rules By Philippe Bich; Rida Laraki
  4. Theories about the Commencement of Agriculture in Prehistoric Societies: A Critical Evaluation By Svizzero, Serge; Tisdell, Clem

  1. By: Svizzero, Serge; Tisdell, Clem
    Abstract: Many economists have recently tried to explain the diverse levels of economic development of countries by studying their trajectories during past eras and in recent history. Special attention has been given to the influences on contemporary societies of relevant developments in prehistory and more particularly, those arising from the Neolithic revolution, i.e. the transition from foraging to farming. This transition from simple to complex hunting and gathering and then to farming is a sequence couched in social evolutionary terms. It suggests a pattern of progressive development resulting in increasing cultural complexity. In this evolutionary scheme, simple hunter-gatherers develop into complex hunters and collectors, whose critical economic decisions are a consequence of climatic changes that inevitably lead them to irreversibly adopt agriculture. Although this pattern of development is widely accepted, we challenge it. Studies of past and recent hunting and gathering societies show an incredible diversity of human social organization through time. Similarly, the various centers where agriculture started during the Neolithic period display great diversity in terms of their genesis, nature and consequences. The nature of the spread of agriculture from the Levant to Europe displays diversity. Demic diffusion and cultural diffusion were both present, and generated a variety of diffusion processes. This diversity of human societies is not easily accounted for by social evolutionary processes; indeed, people’s understanding of the world directly influences the economic decisions they make. The development of agriculture eventually generated an economic surplus. This (combined with increasing social and economic inequalities), another feature of the Neolithic revolution, led to economic growth and therefore to the long-term dominance of agropastoralists societies. Inequality (the appropriation by dominant classes of the economic surplus generated by agropastoralism and by stemming economic developments) was therefore a necessary early condition for increasing the chances of the survival and development of these societies; otherwise they would all have been caught in the Malthusian trap.
    Keywords: hunter-gatherers, agriculture, Neolithic transition, demic diffusion, imitation, economic surplus, social and economic inequalities, social evolutionary theory., Community/Rural/Urban Development, Crop Production/Industries, Land Economics/Use, N00, N5, O10, Q10,
    Date: 2014–04
  2. By: Panebianco, Fabrizio; Verdier, Thierry
    Abstract: We study cultural diffusion in a complex network where the transition probabilities are determined by a cultural transmission technology with endogenous vertical transmission rates (a la Bisin and Verdier, 2001). We derive a two-way epidemic model in which both the infection and the recovery rates are endogenous and depend on the topology of the network. First, we identify a "social structure bias" in cultural transmission that determines the direction of cultural change relating the economic structure of parental socialization incentives to the social network structure. Second, we characterize two balancing conditions satisfied by the network degree distribution and the vertical transmission rate distribution to ensure the sustainability of long run cultural heterogeneity. Third, we show how paternalistic motivations for endogenous cultural transmission interact with the "social structure bias" channel and maintain steady state cultural diversity for any network structure.
    Keywords: cultural transmission; diffusion; mean-field; social networks
    JEL: C73 L14 O33
    Date: 2015–07
  3. By: Philippe Bich (Paris School of Economics - Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne); Rida Laraki (LAMSADE - Université de Dauphine et Département d'Economie - Ecole Polytechnique)
    Abstract: Endogenous sharing rules was introduced by Simon and Zame to model payoff indeterminacy in discontinuous games. Their main result concerns the existence of a solution, i.e., a mixed Nash equilibrium and an associated sharing rule. This note extends their result to abstract economies where, by definition, players are restricted to pure strategies, and provide an interpretation of Simon and Zame's model in terms of preference incompleteness
    Keywords: abtract economies; endogenous sharing rules; competitive equilibrium; incomplete and discontinuous preferences; better-reply security
    JEL: C02 C62 C72 D50
    Date: 2015–06
  4. By: Svizzero, Serge; Tisdell, Clem
    Abstract: The commencement of agriculture in the Holocene era is usually seen as heralding the beginning of a chain of events that eventually resulted in the Industrial Revolution and in modern economic development. The purpose of this paper is to outline and critically review theories about why and how agriculture first began. It also classifies these theories according to whether they are based on agriculture’s development as a response to food deprivation, to a food surplus, or neither of these factors. Because agriculture began independently in several different geographical centres, it seems unlikely that the switch of early societies from hunting and gathering to agriculture was the result of the same cause in all of these locations. Moreover, the paper provides some new suggestions as to why hunters and gatherers were motivated to commence or increase their dependence on agriculture in some locations. Views about the role of natural resources and institutions in the development of agriculture are also discussed.
    Keywords: Agricultural commencement, Domestication, Institutions, Natural endowments, Neolithic transition., Community/Rural/Urban Development, Crop Production/Industries, Land Economics/Use, Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies, O1, N00, P00, P52, Z13.,
    Date: 2014–08–30

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