nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2015‒12‒01
twelve papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Other-Regarding Preferences and Reciprocity: Insights from Experimental Findings and Satisfaction Data By L. Becchetti; V. Pelligra; S.F. Taurino
  2. The first stages of the mortality transition in England:a perspective from evolutionary biology By Romola J. Davenport
  3. Stress and Coping - An Economic Approach By Klaus Wälde
  4. Modern Family: Female Breadwinners and the Intergenerational Transmission of Gender Norms By Panos Mavrokonstantis
  5. The Nature and Predictive Power of Preferences: Global Evidence By Falk, Armin; Becker, Anke; Dohmen, Thomas; Enke, Benjamin; Huffman, David B.; Sunde, Uwe
  6. Population growth and structural transformation By Ho, Chi Pui
  7. Roots of the Industrial Revolution By Kelly, Morgan; Mokyr, Joel; Grada, Cormac O
  8. The Relationship between Economic Theory and Experiments By David K. Levine; Jie Zheng
  9. Honesty and beliefs about honesty in 15 countries By David Hugh-Jones
  10. Time for growth By Lars Boerner; Battista Severgnini
  11. Property Rights and The First Great Divergence: Europe 1500-1800 By Cem Karayalcin
  12. Essays on behavioural economics By Ester Manna

  1. By: L. Becchetti; V. Pelligra; S.F. Taurino
    Abstract: We measure satisfaction about experimental outcomes, personal and other participants’ behaviour after a multiperiod ‘hybrid contribution’ multiplayer prisoner’s dilemma (the Vote-with-the-Wallet game). Our work shows that participants who cooperated above median (which we define as strong cooperators) are significantly more satisfied with the game in proportion to their cooperative choice, irrespective of the material pay- off they obtain. On the contrary, their satisfaction for the other players’ behavior is negatively correlated with the extent of their own cooperative behavior and the non-cooperative behavior of the latter. The satisfaction of strong cooperators for their behavior in the game depends in turn on the share of their own cooperative choices. We document that a broader utility function including heterogeneity in expectations on other players’ behavior, other-regarding preferences, and a negative reciprocity argument may account for the combination of the behavioral and self-reported data.
    Keywords: Subjective Well-Being, social preferences, Vote-with-the-Wallet, lab experiment
    JEL: C72 C92 I31
    Date: 2015
  2. By: Romola J. Davenport
    Abstract: This paper examines the origins of the Mortality Revolution from an evolutionary point of view, in terms of the trade-offs between virulence and disease transmission. For diseases that are transmitted person-to-person and cannot persist outside a host then there is evidence of strong selective pressure against high host lethality. However for pathogens which don’t depend on their human host for transmission or can persist outside a human host (including plague, typhus, smallpox and malaria) then the conflict between virulence and dispersal is reduced. Importantly, the properties that permitted these diseases to be so lethal also made it easier for relatively weak interventions to break the chain of disease transmission. The early control of these major diseases was associated with large reductions in mortality, but also shifted the distribution of causes of death towards the less virulent diseases of the extremes of age and of poverty.
    Keywords: demographic transition, mortality transition, evolutionary biology, smallpox, vaccination. JEL Classification: I14; I15; I18; N33; N93
    Date: 2015
  3. By: Klaus Wälde (Johannes-Gutenberg University Mainz and CESifo)
    Abstract: Stress is ubiquitous in society. In our model, stressors translate into subjective stress via an appraisal process. Stress reduces instantaneous utility of an individual directly and via a cognitive load argument. Coping can be functional and under the control of the individual or more automatic with dysfunctional features. We predict the occurrence and frequency of uncontrolled coping -emotional outbursts - as a function of an individual's personality and environment. Outbursts cannot always be avoided. Delaying emotional outbursts arti...cially can lead to even more outbursts. Looking at the eect of psychotherapy shows that expecting little and being emotional can help maximizing well-being.
    Keywords: Stress, coping, personality, controlled vs. automatic reaction, emotional outbursts, optimal stopping problem
    JEL: D03 D91 I12
    Date: 2015–11–20
  4. By: Panos Mavrokonstantis
    Abstract: In this paper I investigate the intergenerational transmission of gender norms. The norm I focus on is the traditional view that it is the role of the mother to look after young children and the role of the father to be the breadwinner. I develop a model of identity formation where a child's gender norm is endogenous to two main sources of socialisation: her family on the one hand, and society at large on the other. Using data from the Next Steps survey and the International Social Survey Programme, I examine the intergenerational transmission of gender norms in England when the norms of the family, and the society it is embedded in, are oppositional. My findings indicate between-sex heterogeneity in the transmission of gender norms from parents to children. Boys raised in modern families (i.e. where the mother is the breadwinner) are less likely to develop traditional norms. However, compared to those in traditional families, girls raised in modern families are actually more likely to be traditional; in opposition to their family's but in line with society's norm. Examining further outcomes associated with gender norms, I find that girls raised in modern families are also less likely to state that being able to earn high wages is important for them, and are less likely to pursue a science degree at university level. I use my identity formation model to argue that these results can be explained by heterogeneity in preferences for conformity to the family, and present empirical evidence that indeed, girls in modern families are less conformist than those in traditional families. Using a regression discontinuity design, I further show that this weaker preference for conformity is in fact a result of the treatment of living in a modern family.
    Keywords: intergenerational transmission, gender norms, gender inequality
    JEL: D10 J16 Z13
    Date: 2015–11
  5. By: Falk, Armin (University of Bonn); Becker, Anke (University of Bonn); Dohmen, Thomas (University of Bonn); Enke, Benjamin (University of Bonn); Huffman, David B. (University of Pittsburgh); Sunde, Uwe (University of Munich)
    Abstract: This paper presents the Global Preference Survey, a globally representative dataset on risk and time preferences, positive and negative reciprocity, altruism, and trust. We collected these preference data as well as a rich set of covariates for 80,000 individuals, drawn as representative samples from 76 countries around the world, representing 90 percent of both the world's population and global income. The global distribution of preferences exhibits substantial variation across countries, which is partly systematic: certain preferences appear in combination, and follow distinct economic, institutional, and geographic patterns. The heterogeneity in preferences across individuals is even more pronounced and varies systematically with age, gender, and cognitive ability. Around the world, our preference measures are predictive of a wide range of individual-level behaviors including savings and schooling decisions, labor market and health choices, prosocial behaviors, and family structure. We also shed light on the cultural origins of preference variation around the globe using data on language structure.
    Keywords: economic preferences, cultural variation
    JEL: D01 D03 F00
    Date: 2015–11
  6. By: Ho, Chi Pui
    Abstract: Population growth induces structural transformation. We posit two-sector growth models where land is a fixed production factor. When two sectoral goods are consumption complements, population growth pushes production factors towards the sector with stronger diminishing returns to labor through the relative price effect. We clarify conditions when production factors “embrace the land” and “escape from land” throughout development, and the models’ asymptotic growth paths. We calibrate the models to simulate sectoral shifts in pre-industrial England and modern United States. In both cases, relying solely on relative price effects (population growth, technological progress and capital deepening) predicts too slow structural transformation.
    Keywords: Structural transformation; Population growth effect; Relative price effects
    JEL: E1 N1 O5
    Date: 2015–11–19
  7. By: Kelly, Morgan (University College Dublin); Mokyr, Joel (Northwestern University); Grada, Cormac O (University College Dublin)
    Abstract: We analyze factors explaining the very di.erent patterns of industrialization across the 42 counties of England between 1760 and 1830. Against the widespread view that high wages and cheap coal drove industrialization, we find that industrialization was restricted to low wage areas, while energy availability (coal or water) had little impact. Instead we find that industrialization can largely be explained by two related factors related to the human capability of the labour force. Instead of being composed of landless labourers, successful industrializers had large numbers of small farms, which are associated with better nutrition and height. Secondly, industrializing counties had a high density of population relative to agricultural land, indicating extensive rural industrial activity: counties that were already reliant on small scale industry, with the technical and entrepreneurial skills this generated, experienced the strongest industrial growth. Looking at 1830s France we find that the strongest predictor of industrialization again is quality of workers shown by height of the population, although market access and availability of water power were also important there.
    Keywords: JEL Classification:
    Date: 2015
  8. By: David K. Levine; Jie Zheng
    Date: 2015–11–19
  9. By: David Hugh-Jones (University of East Anglia)
    Abstract: The honesty of resident nationals of 15 countries was measured in two experiments: reporting a coin flip with a reward for "heads", and an online quiz with the possibility of cheating. There are large differ- ences in honesty across countries. Average honesty correlates with per capita GDP: this relationship is driven mostly by GDP differences arising before 1950, rather than by GDP growth since 1950, suggesting that the growth-honesty relationship was more important in earlier periods than today. The experiment also elicited participants’ beliefs about honesty in different countries. Beliefs were not correlated with reality. Instead they appear to be driven by cognitive biases, including self-projection.
    Date: 2015–09–25
  10. By: Lars Boerner; Battista Severgnini
    Abstract: This paper studies the impact of the early adoption of one of the most important high-technology machines in history, the public mechanical clock, on long-run growth in Europe. We avoid en- dogeneity by considering the relationship between the adoption of clocks with two sets of instru- ments: distance from the first adopters and the appearance of repeated solar eclipses. The latter instrument is motivated by the predecessor technologies of mechanical clocks, astronomic instru- ments that measured the course of heavenly bodies. We find significant growth rates between 1500 and 1700 in the range of 30 percentage points in early adoptor cities and areas.
    Keywords: technological adoption; cities; mechanical clocks; information technology
    JEL: N13 N93 O33
    Date: 2015–08–27
  11. By: Cem Karayalcin (Department of Economics, Florida International University)
    Abstract: Recent literature on developing countries has revived interest in structural change involving the reallocation of resources from agriculture to industry. Here, we focus on the first such historically important structural transformation in which some parts of Europe escaped from the Malthusian trap centuries earlier than the Industrial Revolution, while others stagnated. There is as yet no consensus as to the causes of this First Great Divergence. The paper advances the thesis that what lies at the root of different paths is the type of property rights inherited. As populations everywhere in Europe recovered from the catastrophes of the late medieval period, what mattered for the direction taken was the size of the landlord class and their landholdings. In western Europe where peasant proprietors tilled small plots, increases in population levels led to lower real wages. Given the low incomes of landlords and peasants, demand for manufactured goods remained low. At the other extreme, in eastern Europe, second serfdom kept wages low, and rents high. Yet given the small size of the land-owning class, these rents could not generate enough demand for high-end manufacturing processes either. Northwestern Europe, being in the middle in terms both of the size of the landholding classes and their properties, prospered as wages failed to decline even when population levels rapidly rose. Combined demand from landlords and workers kindled an expansion of the manufacturing sector.
    Date: 2015–11
  12. By: Ester Manna
    Abstract: Traditional economic theory assumes that individuals are self-interested. They only care about their own well-being and disregard the impact of their actions on the others. However, the assumption of selfish individuals is unable to explain a number of important phenomena and puzzles. Individuals frequently engage in actions that are costly to themselves with no<p>apparent reward. Behavioural economics provides plausible explanations for these actions.<p>Individuals can be “boundedly rational" (Simon, 1955, and Kahneman et al. 1982) and/or can be driven by altruistic, equity and reciprocity considerations (see for an overview Fehr<p>and Schmidt, 2006). Over the past decade, researchers have applied behavioural economics<p>models to the study of organisations and how contracts should be designed in the presence<p>of non-standard preferences and asymmetric information or incomplete contracts (see for<p>an overview of the literature Köszegi, 2014).<p>In my current research, I try to be at the forefront of these new behavioural economics<p>applications into traditional industrial organisation and contract theory themes. The usual prescriptions of standard models can be misleading if potential differences in the agents' preferences are overlooked. Behavioural economics can make great progress if it takes into proper accountmarket and organisational features.
    Keywords: Economics -- Mathematical models; Economie politique -- Modèles mathématiques; Motivated Individuals; Delegation; Teamwork; Spatial Competition; Behavioural Economics
    Date: 2014–09–10

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.