nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2015‒12‒28
four papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. How Strong are Ethnic Preferences? By Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge; Kjetil Bjorvatn; Simon Galle; Edward Miguel; Daniel N. Posner; Bertil Tungodden; Kelly Zhang
  2. Dynamics of Socio-Economic systems: attractors, rationality and meaning By Andrzej Nowak; Jørgen Vitting Andersen; Wojciech Borkowski
  3. The Evolution of Culture and Institutions: Evidence from the Kuba Kingdom By Sara Lowes; Nathan Nunn; James A. Robinson; Jonathan Weigel
  4. Understanding Conformity: An Experimental Investigation By B. Douglas Bernheim; Christine L. Exley

  1. By: Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge; Kjetil Bjorvatn; Simon Galle; Edward Miguel; Daniel N. Posner; Bertil Tungodden; Kelly Zhang
    Abstract: Ethnic divisions have been shown to adversely affect economic performance and political stability, especially in Africa, but the underlying reasons remain contested, with multiple mechanisms potentially playing a role. We utilize lab experiments to isolate the role of one such mechanism—ethnic preferences—which have been central in both theory and in the conventional wisdom about the impact of ethnic differences. We employ an unusually rich research design, collecting multiple rounds of experimental data with a large sample of 1,300 subjects in Nairobi; employing within-lab priming conditions; and utilizing both standard and novel experimental measures, including implicit association tests. The econometric approach was pre-specified in a registered pre-analysis plan. Most of our tests yield no evidence of coethnic bias. The results run strongly against the common presumption of extensive ethnic bias among ordinary Kenyans, and suggest that other mechanisms may be more important in explaining the negative association between ethnic diversity and economic and political outcomes.
    JEL: C90 H41 O43
    Date: 2015–11
  2. By: Andrzej Nowak (Institute for Social Studies, University of Warsaw - Institute for Social Studies, University of Warsaw,, Florida Atlantic University [Boca Raton]); Jørgen Vitting Andersen (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Wojciech Borkowski (University of Social Sciences and Humanities - University of Social Sciences and Humanities)
    Abstract: Gintis Helbing and go beyond the traditional boundaries of scientific disciplines and offer the integration of major theories of the main disciplines of the social and natural sciences. The theory captures many ideas of social psychology. Several assumptions of the model, however, can be questioned. The hypothesis that social systems are at equilibrium is too narrow, because social systems can also be out of balance. The concept of dynamic attraction shows that the systems may converge to different types of attractors in accordance with the value of control parameters. The notion of rationality of human behavior can be challenged on the basis of new data of psychology, decision sciences and behavioral economics. Often individuals do not process information, but rather copy the choices of others. Individuals interact by both direct and indirect means – if market mechanisms. More importantly, the social dynamic, unlike physical systems, are governed by a sense. Despite these limitations of the theory and Gintis Helbing is an important step in the integration of social sciences.
    Keywords: Complex system,adaptive system,general equilibrium
    Date: 2015–10
  3. By: Sara Lowes; Nathan Nunn; James A. Robinson; Jonathan Weigel
    Abstract: We use variation in historical state centralization to examine the impact of institutions on cultural norms. The Kuba Kingdom, established in Central Africa in the early 17th century by King Shyaam, had more developed state institutions than the other independent villages and chieftaincies in the region. It had an unwritten constitution, separation of political powers, a judicial system with courts and juries, a police force and military, taxation, and significant public goods provision. Comparing individuals from the Kuba Kingdom to those from just outside the Kingdom, we find that centralized formal institutions are associated with weaker norms of rule-following and a greater propensity to cheat for material gain.
    JEL: D03 N47
    Date: 2015–12
  4. By: B. Douglas Bernheim (Stanford University); Christine L. Exley (Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit)
    Abstract: Some theories of conformity hold that social equilibrium either standardizes inferences or promotes a shared understanding of conventions and norms among individuals with fixed heterogeneous preferences (belief mechanisms). Others depict tastes as fluid and hence subject to social influences (preference mechanisms). Belief mechanisms dominate discussions of conformity within economics, but preference mechanisms receive significant attention in other social sciences. This paper seeks to determine whether conformity is attributable to belief mechanisms or preference mechanisms by exploiting their distinctive implications for the process of convergence. Laboratory experiments suggest that economists have focused too narrowly on explanations for conformity involving belief mechanisms.
    Keywords: conformity, norms, image motivation, prosocial behavior,
    Date: 2015–12

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