nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2015‒09‒26
nine papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. "Roots of Autocracy" By Oded Galor; Marc Klemp
  2. Social Identity and Punishment By Jeffrey V. Butler; Pierluigi Conzo; Martin A. Leroch
  3. Dishonesty: From Parents to Children By Daniel Houser; John List; Marco Piovesan; Anya Samek; Joachim Winter
  4. Waiting to Cooperate? Cooperation in one-stage and two-stage games By Todd Kaplan, Bradley Ruffle
  5. Growing incomes, growing people in nineteenth-century Tasmania By Kris Inwood; Hamish Maxwell-Stewart; Deb Oxley
  6. The Role of Cultural Leaders in the Transmission of Preferences By Verdier, Thierry; Zenou, Yves
  7. What automaton model captures decision making? A call for finding a behavioral taxonomy of complexity By Stephan Schosser; Bodo Vogt
  8. When social preferences and anxiety drive behavior and vasopressin does not – An neuroeconomic analysis of vasopressin and the Hawk-Dove game – By Claudia Brunnlieb; Stephan Schosser; Bodo Vogt
  9. Intergroup revenge: a laboratory experiment on the causes By David Hugh-Jones; Martin A. Leroch

  1. By: Oded Galor; Marc Klemp
    Abstract: This research explores the origins of the variation in the prevalence and nature of political institutions across globe. It advances the hypothesis and establishes empirically that variation in the inherent diversity across human societies, as determined in the course of the exodus of Homo sapiens from Africa tens of thousands of years ago, shaped the nature of political institutions across regions and societies. The study establishes that, while human diversity has amplified the beneficial e?ects of institutions, mitigating the adverse e?ects of non-cohesiveness, its simultaneous contribution to heterogeneity in cognitive and physical traits has fostered the scope for domination, leading to the formation and persistence of autocratic institutions. A larger degree of human diversity within societies diminished cohesiveness and therefore stimulated the emergence of institutions that have mitigated the adverse e?ects of non-cohesiveness on productivity. However, the dual impact of human diversity on the emergence of inequality and class stratification have diverted the nature of the emerging institutions towards extractive, autocratic ones. Developing a novel geo-referenced dataset of genetic diversity and ethnographic characteristics among ethnic groups across the globe, the analysis establishes that genetic diversity contributed to the emergence of autocratic pre-colonial institutions. Moreover, the findings suggest that the contribution of diversity to these pre-colonial autocratic institutions has plausibly operated through its dual e?ect on the formation of institutions and class stratification. Furthermore, reflecting the persistence of institutional, cultural, and genetic characteristics, the spatial distribution of genetic diversity across the globe has contributed to the contemporary variation in the degree of autocracy across countries.
    Keywords: Autocracy, Economic Growth, Genetic Diversity, Institutions, Out-of-Africa Hypothesis of Comparative Development
    Date: 2015
  2. By: Jeffrey V. Butler (Department of Economics, University of Nevada); Pierluigi Conzo (University of Turin, Campus Luigi Einaudi and CSEF, Dept of Economics and Statistics, University of Naples Federico II); Martin A. Leroch (Institute of Political Science, Johannes Gutenberg-Universitaet Mainz)
    Abstract: Third party (bystander) punishment is crucial for sustaining cooperative behavior. Through laboratory experiments we investigate the interaction between group identi- cation and a bystander's punishment preferences by inducing minimal groups and giving a bystander the opportunity to levy a xed amount of punishment on the perpetrator of an unfair act towards a defenseless victim. We elicit the bystander's valuation for punishment in four cases: when the perpetrator, the victim, both or neither are members of the bystander's group. For predictions, we construct three separate frameworks diering by whether the primary eect of group identity is to create an empathetic bond between in-group members or to aect the weights placed on others' money earnings (distributional social preferences). The frameworks yield starkly dierent ordinal predictions about the bystander's value for punishment across two cases: i) when the perpetrator and victim are both members of the bystander's group; ii) when only the victim is an in-group member. The empathetic bond framework predicts that punishment will be more highly valued in the latter case, while the distributional preferences frameworks suggest the opposite. Our data support the predictions of the rst. Finally, we conduct control sessions where groups are not induced and nd that bystanders tend to treat others as in-group members unless specically divided into distinct groups.
    Keywords: Identity, social norms, culture, cheating, in-group bias, punishment
    JEL: D74 Z1
    Date: 2015–05–28
  3. By: Daniel Houser (Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science and Department of Economics, George Mason University); John List (Department of Economics, University of Chicago); Marco Piovesan (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen); Anya Samek (Center for Economic and Social Research, University of Southern California); Joachim Winter (Department of Economics, University of Munich)
    Abstract: Acts of dishonesty permeate life. Understanding their origins, and what mechanisms help to attenuate such acts is an underexplored area of research. This study takes an economics approach to explore the propensity of individuals to act dishonestly across different contexts. We conduct an experiment that includes both parents and their young children as subjects, exploring the roles of moral cost and scrutiny on dishonest behavior. We find that the highest level of dishonesty occurs in settings where the parent acts alone and the dishonest act benefits the child. In this spirit, there is also an interesting, quite different, effect of children on parents’ behavior: parents act more honestly under the scrutiny of daughters than under the scrutiny of sons. This finding sheds new light on the origins of the widely documented gender differences in cheating behavior observed among adults, where a typical result is that females are more honest than males. Length: 48
    Keywords: cheating, dishonesty, ethical judgment, social utility, field experiment
    JEL: C91 D63
    Date: 2015–09
  4. By: Todd Kaplan, Bradley Ruffle (Wilfrid Laurier University)
    Abstract: Cooperation between two players often requires exactly one to take the available action, while the other acquiesces. If the decisions whether to pursue the action are made simultaneously, then neither or both may acquiesce leading to an inefficient outcome. However, inefficiency may be avoided if players move sequentially. We test experimentally whether two-stage versions of this entry-exit game enhance cooperation. In one version, players may wait in the first stage to see what their paired player did and then coordinate in the second stage. In another version, sequential decision-making is imposed by assigning one player to move in stage one and the other player in stage two. Although there are fewer cooperative decisions in the two-stage treatments, we show that subjects coordinate better on efficient cooperation and on avoiding both acquiescing. Consequently they achieve higher profits. Yet, the least cooperative pairs do worse in the two-stage games than their single-stage counterparts. They use the second stage not to facilitate coordination but to disguise their uncooperative play or to punish their opponents.
    Keywords: experimental economics, cooperation, efficiency, two-stage games, turn-taking.
    JEL: C90 Z13
    Date: 2015–09–16
  5. By: Kris Inwood; Hamish Maxwell-Stewart; Deb Oxley
    Abstract: The earliest measures of well-being for Europeans born in the Pacific region are heights and wages in Tasmania. Evidence of rising stature survives multiple checks for measurement, compositional and selection bias. The challenges to health and stature seen in other nineteenth-century settler societies (the ‘antebellum paradox’) are not visible here. There was a strong correlation in Tasmania between stature and per capita GDP. We sketch an interpretation highlighting the role of relatively slow population growth and urbanization, a decline in food cost per family member available from a worker’s wage, and early recognition of the importance of public health.
    Date: 2015–04
  6. By: Verdier, Thierry; Zenou, Yves
    Abstract: This paper studies the population dynamics of preference traits in a model of intergenerational cultural transmission with cultural leaders who compete for oblique socialization. We show that by adding this new channel in the transmission of preferences, i.e. cultural leaders, in steady-state, there cannot be an equilibrium with total assimilation or total integration of the population.
    Keywords: assimilation; cultural leaders; integration; Socialization
    JEL: J13 J15 Z10
    Date: 2015–09
  7. By: Stephan Schosser (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg); Bodo Vogt (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)
    Abstract: When investigating bounded rationality, economists favor finite-state automatons - for example the Mealy machine - and state complexity as a model for human decision making over other concepts. Finite-state automatons are a machine model, which are especially suited for (repetitions of) decision problems with limited strategy sets. In this paper, we argue that finite-state automatons do not suffice to capture human decision making when it comes to problems with infinite strategy sets, such as choice rules. To proof our arguments, we apply the concept of Turing machines to choice rules and show that rational choice has minimal complexity if choices are rationalizable, while complexity of rational choice dramatically increases if choices are no longer rationalizable. We conclude that modeling human behavior using space and time complexity best captures human behavior and suggest to introduce a behavioral taxonomy of complexity describing adequate boundaries for human capabilities.
    Date: 2015–07
  8. By: Claudia Brunnlieb (Institute of Social Medicine and Health Economics, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg); Stephan Schosser (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg); Bodo Vogt (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)
    Abstract: We delineated the causal influence of vasopressin on behavior in an iterated Hawk-Dove game. While subjects treated with vasopressin tend to be more aggressive in response to group members who did not coordinate on equilibrium instantaneously, this effect vanishes as soon as the subjects reach an equilibrium. More than vasopressin, social preferences and trait anxiety of the subjects predict the observed behavior.
    Keywords: Hawk-Dove game, anti-coordination game, neuroeconomic experiment, vasopressin, psychological aspects
    JEL: C72 C92 D03 D87
    Date: 2015–07
  9. By: David Hugh-Jones (Department of Government, University of Essex); Martin A. Leroch (Institute of Political Science, Johannes Gutenberg-Universitaet Mainz)
    Abstract: Field studies of conflict report cycles of mutual revenge between groups, often linked to perceptions of intergroup injustice. Which motivations account for such behavior is, however, not clear. We test the hypothesis that people are predisposed to reciprocate against groups. In a laboratory experiment, subjects who were harmed by a partner’s uncooperative action reacted by harming other members of the partner’s group. This group reciprocity was only observed when one group was seen as unfairly advantaged. Our results support a behavioral mechanism leading from perceived injustice to intergroup conflict. We discuss the relevance of group reciprocity to political and economic phenomena including conflict, discrimination and team competition.

This nep-evo issue is ©2015 by Matthew Baker. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.