nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2016‒02‒29
eight papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Political Institutions and Preference Evolution By WU, JIABIN
  2. Population Diversity, Division of Labor and the Emergence of Trade and State By Emilio Depetris-Chauvin; Ömer Özak
  3. Cooperation, Motivation and Social Balance By Bosworth, Steven J.; Singer, Tania; Snower, Dennis J.
  4. Economic development in Africa and Europe: reciprocal comparisons By Stephen Broadberry; Leigh A. Gardner
  5. Bread and bullets By Akerlof, George A.; Snower, Dennis J.
  6. GThou shalt not steal (from hard-working people)An experiment on respect for property claims By Marco Faillo; Matteo Rizzolli; Stephan Tontrup
  7. The Anthropology of Corruption By Davide Torsello; Bertrand Venard
  8. Corporate Culture, Societal Culture, and Institutions By Guiso, Luigi; Sapienza, Paola; Zingales, Luigi

  1. By: WU, JIABIN
    Abstract: This paper argues that political institutions play an important role in shaping the evolutionary trajectory of preferences. We consider a population with two preference groups. A political institution provides the platform and a set of rules for the two groups to battle over the relative representativeness of their preference traits for the high positions in the social hierarchy. This political process affects the economic outcomes of the two groups, subsequently the intergenerational transmission of preferences. We study how conducive different political institutions are to spreading preference traits that induce better economic outcomes. We find that any preference trait can be prevalent under "exclusive" political institutions. Therefore, a society can be trapped in a state in which preference traits associated with unfavorable economic outcomes persist. On the other hand, preference evolution under "inclusive" political institutions has stronger selection power and only the preference traits that result in the largest comparative advantage in holding a high position can be prevalent.
    Keywords: Preference evolution, Political institutions, Evolutionary Game Theory
    JEL: C72 C73 D72 Z10 Z13
    Date: 2016–02–18
  2. By: Emilio Depetris-Chauvin (Universidad de los Andes); Ömer Özak (Southern Methodist University)
    Abstract: This research explores the emergence and prevalence of economic specialization and trade in pre-modern societies. It advances the hypothesis, and establishes empirically that population diversity had a positive causal effect on economic specialization and trade. Based on a novel ethnic level dataset combining geocoded ethnographic and genetic data, this research exploits the exogenous variation in population diversity generated by the ``Out-of-Africa'' migration of anatomically modern humans to causally establish the positive effect of population diversity on economic specialization and the emergence of trade-related institutions, which, in turn, facilitated the historical formation of states. Additionally, it provides suggestive evidence that regions historically inhabited by pre-modern societies with high levels of economic specialization have a larger occupational heterogeneity and are more developed today.
    Keywords: Economic Specialization, Division of Labor, Trade, State Formation, Population Diversity, Population Heterogeneity, Genetic Diversity, Diversity, Emergence of State, Persistence, Out of Africa.
    JEL: D74 F10 N47 O10 O17 Z10
    Date: 2015–10
  3. By: Bosworth, Steven J. (Kiel Institute for the World Economy); Singer, Tania (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences); Snower, Dennis J. (Kiel Institute for the World Economy)
    Abstract: This paper examines the reflexive interplay between individual decisions and social forces to analyze the evolution of cooperation in the presence of "multi-directedness," whereby people's preferences depend on their psychological motives. People have access to multiple, discrete motives. Different motives may be activated by different social settings. Inter-individual differences in dispositional types affect the responsiveness of people's motives to their social settings. The evolution of these dispositional types is driven by changes in the frequencies of social settings. In this context, economic policies can influence economic decisions not merely by modifying incentives operating through given preferences, but also by influencing people's motives (thereby changing their preferences) and by changing the distribution of dispositional types in the population (thereby changing their motivational responsiveness to social settings).
    Keywords: motivation, reflexivity, cooperation, social dilemma, endogenous preferences, dispositions
    JEL: A13 C72 D01 D03 D62 D64
    Date: 2016–02
  4. By: Stephen Broadberry; Leigh A. Gardner
    Abstract: Recent advances in historical national accounting have allowed for global comparisons of GDP per capita across space and time. Critics have argued that GDP per capita fails to capture adequately the multi-dimensional nature of welfare, and have developed alternative measures such as the human development index. Whilst recognising that these wider indicators provide an appropriate way of assessing levels of welfare, we argue that GDP per capita remains a more appropriate measure for assessing development potential, focussing on production possibilities and the sustainability of consumption. Twentieth-century Africa and pre-industrial Europe are used to show how such data can guide reciprocal comparisons to provide insights into the process of development on both continents.
    Keywords: GDP per capita; HDI; Africa; Europe; reciprocal comparison
    JEL: N0 N01 N1 N13 N17
    Date: 2016
  5. By: Akerlof, George A.; Snower, Dennis J.
    Abstract: Standard economics omits the role of narratives (the stories that people tell themselves and others) when they make all kinds of decisions. Narratives play a role in understanding the environment; focusing attention; predicting events; motivating action; assigning social roles and identities; defining power relations; and establishing and conveying social norms. This paper describes the role narratives play in decision making, as it also juxtaposes this description against the backdrop of the Bolshevik-spawned narrative that played a critical role in the history of Russia and the Soviet Union in the 20th Century.
    Keywords: narrative,motivation,attention,prediction,identity,social assignment
    JEL: A12 A13 A14 D03 D04 D20 D23 D30 D62 D71 D72 D74 E02
    Date: 2016
  6. By: Marco Faillo (University of Trento); Matteo Rizzolli (LUMSA University); Stephan Tontrup (New York University)
    Abstract: Abstract The institution of property is void without legal and social enforcement against theft. To address wasteful competition over resources, societies have long developed strategies that encompass -inter alia- behavioral traits, social norms and legal institutions to promote the respect and enforcement of property rights. On the other hand, a growing body of biological and ethological evidence suggests that several other animal species establish and respect some forms of property even in the absence of institutions. Would human beings respect others' property in the absence of institutions? Do people posses some innate sense of property, or do they respect property only because of legal and social enforcement? In this study, we explore this issue with a lab experiment that resembles a famous thought experiment proposed by Plato. As Plato sought to understand how one ought to behave when he or sheis completely shielded by the consequences of his actions,we study whether people respect property once full anonymity is granted. In this experiment, we implement a Free-Form Dictator game where participants can both give and take up to five scratchcards from a passive counterpart that they have either previously bought outside the lab with their own money (legal treatments) or gained inside the lab via an effort task (effortful treatments). In conclusion to the experiment, evidence is provided of a (weak) sense of property. We also provide evidence that property in the lab is better established through an effort tasks than through the use of subject's own real property brought from outside the lab.
    Keywords: property rights, dictator game, bully game, taking, stealing, anonymity, effort, scratchcards
    JEL: C91 D23 K11 P14 P26
    Date: 2016–01
  7. By: Davide Torsello (Central European University (Budapest)); Bertrand Venard (Audencia Recherche - Audencia)
    Abstract: The social importance of corruption and its complex nature have led management scholars to study the phenomenon. However, they have largely ignored the research conducted by anthropologists on the matter. The aim of this article is to provide a critical review of the anthropological literature on corruption in relation to the management science research. Anthropology offers valuable insights into the understanding of the study of corruption. The field provides new perspectives particularly in relation to the definition of the concept, the morality of corruption, the processual approach, the methods of inquiry, and the holistic perspective. Management research can gain important insights from the results of ethnographic investigations that support the idea that the great diversity in the practices of corruption worldwide is imbued with the particular cultural and social implications of this phenomenon.
    Keywords: Corruption, Bribery, Deviant/counterproductive behavior, Business and government/political economy, Ethics, Emerging markets
    Date: 2015–12
  8. By: Guiso, Luigi; Sapienza, Paola; Zingales, Luigi
    Abstract: While both cultural and legal norms (institutions) help foster cooperation, culture is the more primitive of the two and itself sustains formal institutions. Cultural changes are rarer and slower than changes in legal institutions, which makes it difficult to identify the role played by culture. Cultural changes and their effects are easier to identify in simpler, more controlled, environments, such as corporations. Corporate culture, thus, is not only interesting per se, but also as a laboratory to study the role of societal culture and the way it can be changed.
    Keywords: corporate culture; cultural economics; institutions
    JEL: K4 Z1
    Date: 2015–02

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