nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2015‒12‒08
four papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Why Sex? and Why Only in Pairs? By Perry, Motty; Reny, Philip J.; Robson, Arthur J.
  2. Sins of the Fathers: The Intergenerational Legacy of the 1959-1961 Great Chinese Famine on Children’s Cognitive Development By Chih Ming Tan; Zhibo Tan; Xiaobo Zhang
  3. Cultural Economics and Intellectual Property: Tensions and Challenges for the Region By Miranda Forsyth
  4. Challenging Conformity: A Case for Diversity By Kets, Willemien; Sandroni, Alvaro

  1. By: Perry, Motty (Department of Economics, University of Warwick); Reny, Philip J. (Department of Economics, The University of Chicago); Robson, Arthur J. (Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University)
    Abstract: Understanding the purpose of sex remains one of the most important unresolved problems in evolutionary biology. The difficulty is not that there are too few theories of sex, the difficulty is that there are too many and none stand out. To distinguish between theories we suggest the following question: Why are there no triparental species in which an offspring is composed of the genetic material of three individuals? A successful theory should confer an advantage to biparental sex over asexual reproduction without conferring an even greater advantage to triparental sex. We pose our question in the context of two leading theories of sex, the (deterministic) mutational hypothesis that sex reduces the rate at which harmful mutations accumulate, and the red queen hypothesis that sex reduces the impact of parasitic attack by increasing genotypic variability. We show that the mutational hypothesis fails to provide an answer to the question because it implies that triparental sex dominates biparental sex, so the latter should never be observed. In contrast, we show that the red queen hypothesis is able to explain biparental sex without conferring an even greater advantage to triparental sex.
  2. By: Chih Ming Tan (Department of Economics, University of North Dakota, USA; The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis, Italy); Zhibo Tan (School of Economics, Fudan University, China); Xiaobo Zhang (China Center for Economic Research, Peking University, China; International Food Policy Research Institute, USA)
    Abstract: The effect of early exposure to malnutrition on the next generation’s cognitive abilities has rarely been studied in human beings in large part due to lack of data. A natural experiment, the Great Chinese Famine, and a novel dataset are employed to study this effect. The paper finds that the cognitive abilities of children born to rural famine fathers were affected and that the impact is more pronounced in girls than in boys, whereas children born to female survivors are not affected. The uncovered gender-specific effect is almost entirely attributable to son preference exhibited in families with male famine survivors.
    Date: 2014–05
  3. By: Miranda Forsyth
    Abstract: The Pacific islands region is currently experiencing an intensification of interest in culture as an enabler, rather than an inhibitor, of development. The emerging field of cultural economics seeks to chart ways in which culture can lead to both economic development and also to other goals, such as positive social relationships, community cohesion and maintenance and enjoyment of cultural heritage. However, bringing together these different range of goals at times involves tensions, often manifested in differences between individual autonomy and family and community obligations, generational focus and clashes of cultural logics. This paper investigates these tensions through the lens of intellectual property, an area where competing ideologies and perspectives of entitlement often come head to head. It identifies and reflects upon four areas of tension that will have to be navigated as the region experiments with both global models of intellectual property and national and local regulatory mechanisms.
    Keywords: cultural economics;intellectual property;traditional knowledge;Pacific islands
    Date: 2015–03–28
  4. By: Kets, Willemien; Sandroni, Alvaro
    Abstract: Why do diverse groups outperform homogeneous groups in some settings, but not in others? We show that while diverse groups experience more frictions than homogeneous ones, they are also less conformist. Homogeneous groups minimize the risk of miscoordination, but they may get stuck in an inefficient equilibrium. Diverse groups may fail to coordinate, but if they do, they tend to attain efficiency. This fundamental tradeoff determines how the optimal level of diversity varies with social and economic factors. When it is vitally important to avoid miscoordination, homogeneous groups are optimal. However, when it is critical to implement new and efficient practices, diverse groups perform better.
    Keywords: Diversity, conformity, coordination, introspection, Theory of Mind
    JEL: C72 D20 D80
    Date: 2015–11–15

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