nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2016‒01‒03
four papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Striving for Balance in Economics: Towards a Theory of the Social Determination of Behavior By Karla Hoff; Joseph E. Stiglitz
  2. One Long Argument in Economics: Explaining Intellectual Inertia in terms of Evolutionary Ontology By Erkan Gurpinar; Altug Yalcintas
  3. Market failure vs. system failure as a rationale for economic policy? A critique from an evolutionary perspective By Peter Schmidt
  4. Did Gender-Bias Matter in the Quantity-Quality Trade-off in 19th Century France? By Diebolt, Claude; Mishra, Tapas; Perrin, Faustine

  1. By: Karla Hoff; Joseph E. Stiglitz
    Abstract: This paper is an attempt to broaden the standard economic discourse by importing insights into human behavior not just from psychology, but also from sociology and anthropology. Whereas the concept of the decision-maker is the rational actor in standard economics and, in early work in behavioral economics, the quasi-rational actor influenced by the context of the moment of decision-making, in some recent work in behavioral economics the decision-maker could be called the enculturated actor. This actor's preferences and cognition are subject to two deep social influences: (a) the social contexts to which he has become exposed and, especially accustomed; and (b) the cultural mental models—including categories, identities, narratives, and worldviews—that he uses to process information. We trace how these factors shape individual behavior through the endogenous determination of both preferences and the lenses through which individuals see the world—their perception, categorization, and interpretation of situations. We offer a tentative taxonomy of the social determinants of behavior and describe results of controlled and natural experiments that only a broader view of the social determinants of behavior can plausibly explain. The perspective suggests new tools to promote well-being and economic development.
    JEL: A12 D00 D01 D03 D20 D50 Z13
    Date: 2015–12
  2. By: Erkan Gurpinar; Altug Yalcintas
    Abstract: In this article, we explain in terms of evolutionary ontology whether (and to what extent) economics has become an evolutionary science since Veblen published his seminal paper in 1898, “Why is Economics Not an Evolutionary Science?” We argue that researchers’ habitual and ceremonial behavior as well as ideologies and non-intellectual beliefs cause inertia in the research environment. Inertia caused by the research environment is so significant that economics does not “progress” towards a state advocated by Veblen, where economists revisit their thoughts and change their minds by following the (evolutionary) “drift.” In essence, we stress the evolutionary ontological reasons why economists do not abandon theories when the dominant paradigm in economics is disputed. The “drift” which Veblen thought would turn economics into an evolutionary science has now become an evolutionary process itself, in which economists are unable to displace non-evolutionary preconceptions in economics.
    Keywords: Evolutionary ontology, Intellectual path dependence, Intellectual inertia, Epistemic costs, Habits of thought
    JEL: B15 B41 B52
    Date: 2015–09
  3. By: Peter Schmidt (University of Potsdam, August-Bebel-Strasse 89, 14482 Potsdam, Germany)
    Abstract: This paper reconsiders the explanation of economic policy from an evolutionary economics perspective. It contrasts the neoclassical equilibrium notions of market and government failure with the dominant evolutionary neo-Schumpeterian and Austrian Hayekian perceptions. Based on this comparison, the paper criticises the fact that neoclassical failure reasoning still prevails in non equilibrium evolutionary economics when economic policy issues are examined. This is more than surprising, since proponents of evolutionary economics usually view their approach as incompatible with its neoclassical counterpart. In addition, it is shown that this “fallacy of failure thinking†even finds its continuation in the alternative concept of “system failure†with which some evolutionary economists try to explain and legitimate policy interventions in local, regional or national innovation systems. The paper argues that in order to prevent the otherwise fruitful and more realistic evolutionary approach from undermining its own criticism of neoclassical economics and to create a consistent as well as objective evolutionary policy framework, it is necessary to eliminate the equilibrium spirit. Finally, the paper delivers an alternative evolutionary explanation of economic policy which is able to overcome the theory-immanent contradiction of the hitherto evolutionary view on this subject.
    Keywords: market failure, system failure, economic policy, policy advice, evolutionary economics, non equilibrium economics
    JEL: A11 B41 B52 H00 H53 O30
    Date: 2015–12–16
  4. By: Diebolt, Claude (BETA/CNRS, Université de Strasbourg); Mishra, Tapas (Southampton Business School, University of Southampton); Perrin, Faustine (Department of Economic History, Lund University)
    Abstract: Recent theoretical developments of growth models, especially on unified theories of growth, suggest that the child quantity-quality trade-off has been a central element of the transition from Malthusian stagnation to sustained growth. Using an original censusbased dataset, this paper explores the role of gender on the trade-off between education and fertility across 86 French counties during the nineteenth century, as an empirical extension of Diebolt-Perrin (2013). We first test the existence of the child quantity-quality trade-off in 1851. Second, we explore the long-run effect of education on fertility from a gendered approach. Two important results emerge: (i) significant and negative association between education and fertility is found, and (ii) such a relationship is non-unique over the distribution of education/fertility. While our results suggest the existence of a negative and significant effect of the female endowments in human capital on the fertility transition, the effects of negative endowment almost disappear at low level of fertility.
    Keywords: Cliometrics; Education; Fertility; Demographic Transition; Unified growth theory; Nineteenth century France
    JEL: C22 C26 C32 C36 C81 C82 I20 J13 N01 N33
    Date: 2015–12–15

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