nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2016‒08‒14
eight papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Fecundity, Fertility and the Formation of Human Capital By Klemp, Marc; Weisdorf, Jacob
  2. Learning to Coordinate: Co-Evolution and Correlated Equilibrium By Alejandro Lee-Penagos
  3. Measuring Time Preferences By Jonathan D. Cohen; Keith Marzilli Ericson; David Laibson; John Myles White
  4. Causes and Consequences of the Protestant Reformation* By Sascha O. Becker; Steven Pfaff; Jared Rubin
  5. Persistent Social Networks: Civil War Veterans who Fought Together Co-Locate in Later Life By Dora L. Costa; Matthew E. Kahn; Christopher Roudiez; Sven Wilson
  6. Bride Price and Female Education By Nava Ashraf; Natalie Bau; Nathan Nunn; Alessandra Voena
  7. Introduction: the renaissance of African economic history By Gareth Austin; Stephen Broadberry
  8. Six Centuries of British Economic Growth: a Time-Series Perspective By Crafts, Nicholas; Mills, Terence C.

  1. By: Klemp, Marc (Brown University); Weisdorf, Jacob (University of Southern Denmark)
    Abstract: This research explores a fundamental cause of variation in human capital formation across families in the pre-modern period, as well as the mitigating effects of family-level economic prosperity. Exploiting a vast genealogy of English individuals in the 17th to the 19th centuries, the study proposes and tests the hypothesis that lower parental reproductive capacity positively affected the socioeconomic achievements of offspring. In particular, the research establishes an e↵ect of reproductive capacity on offspring human capital in the pre-modern era. Using the time interval between the date of marriage and the first birth as a measure of reproductive capacity, the research establishes that children of parents with lower fecundity were more likely to become literate and employed in skilled and high-wealth professions. The analysis finds that parental fecundity significantly affected the number of siblings, indicating that a trade-off between child quantity and quality was present in England during the industrial revolution and supporting leading theories of the origins of modern economic growth. Furthermore, it finds that the effect was weaker for the socioeconomic elite, who could offset the cost of additional children by raising total investment in offspring human capital.
    Keywords: Human Capital Formation, Child Quantity-Quality Trade-Off, Reproductive Capacity, Fecundity, Demographic Transition, Long-Run Economic Growth JEL Classification: J13, N30, O10
    Date: 2016
  2. By: Alejandro Lee-Penagos (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: In a coordination game such as the Battle of the Sexes, agents can condition their plays on external signals that can, in theory, lead to a Correlated Equilibrium that can improve the overall payoffs of the agents. Here we explore whether boundedly rational, adaptive agents can learn to coordinate in such an environment. We find that such agents are able to coordinate, often in complex ways, even without an external signal. Furthermore, when a signal is present, Correlated Equilibrium are rare. Thus, even in a world of simple learning agents, coordination behavior can take on some surprising forms.
    Keywords: Battle of the Sexes, Correlated Equilibrium, Evolutionary Game Theory, Learning Algorithms, Coordination Games, Adaptive Agents
    Date: 2016–11
  3. By: Jonathan D. Cohen; Keith Marzilli Ericson; David Laibson; John Myles White
    Abstract: We review research that measures time preferences – i.e., preferences over intertemporal tradeoffs. We distinguish between studies using financial flows, which we call “money earlier or later” (MEL) decisions and studies that use time-dated consumption/effort. Under different structural models, we show how to translate what MEL experiments directly measure (required rates of return for financial flows) into a discount function. We summarize empirical regularities found in MEL studies and the predictive power of those studies. We explain why MEL choices are driven in part by some factors that are distinct from underlying time preferences.
    JEL: D03 D9
    Date: 2016–07
  4. By: Sascha O. Becker (University of Warwick); Steven Pfaff (University of Washington); Jared Rubin (Chapman University)
    Abstract: The Protestant Reformation is one of the defining events of the last millennium. Nearly 500 years after the Reformation, its causes and consequences have seen a renewed interest in the social sciences. Research in economics, sociology, and political science increasingly uses detailed individual-level, city-level, and regional-level data to identify drivers of the adoption of the Reformation, its diffusion pattern, and its socioeconomic consequences. We take stock of this research, pointing out what we know and what we do not know and suggesting the most promising areas for future research.
    Keywords: Protestant Reformation
    JEL: N33 Z12 R38 D85
    Date: 2016
  5. By: Dora L. Costa; Matthew E. Kahn; Christopher Roudiez; Sven Wilson
    Abstract: At the end of the U.S Civil War, veterans had to choose whether to return to their prewar communities or move to new areas. The late 19th Century was a time of sharp urban growth as workers sought out the economic opportunities offered by cities. By estimating discrete choice migration models, we quantify the tradeoffs that veterans faced. Veterans were less likely to move far from their origin and avoided urban immigrant areas and high mortality risk areas. They also avoided areas that opposed the Civil War. Veterans were more likely to move to a neighborhood or a county where men from their same war company lived. This co-location evidence highlights the existence of persistent social networks. Such social networks had long-term consequences: veterans living close to war time friends enjoyed a longer life.
    JEL: J61 N91 R23
    Date: 2016–07
  6. By: Nava Ashraf; Natalie Bau; Nathan Nunn; Alessandra Voena
    Abstract: Traditional cultural practices can play an important role in development, but can also inspire condemnation. The custom of bride price, prevalent throughout sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia as a payment by the groom to the family of the bride, is one example. In this paper, we show a perhaps surprising economic consequence of this practice. We revisit one of the best-studied historical development projects, the INPRES school construction program in Indonesia, and show that previously found small effects on female enrollment mask heterogeneity by bride price tradition. Ethnic groups that traditionally engage in bride price payments at marriage increased female enrollment in response to the program. Within these ethnic groups, higher female education at marriage is associated with a higher bride price payment received, providing a greater incentive for parents to invest in girls' education and take advantage of the increased supply of schools. However, we see no increase in education following school construction for girls from ethnicities without a bride price tradition. We replicate these findings in Zambia, where we exploit a similar school expansion program that took place in the early 2000s. While there may be significant downsides to a bride price tradition, our results suggest that any change to this cultural custom should likely be considered alongside additional policies to promote female education.
    JEL: I21 I25 O53 O55 Z1 Z13
    Date: 2016–07
  7. By: Gareth Austin; Stephen Broadberry
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2014–11
  8. By: Crafts, Nicholas (University of Warwick); Mills, Terence C. (Loughborough University)
    Abstract: This paper provides a time-series analysis of recent annual estimates of real GDP and industrial output covering 1270 to 1913. We show that growth can be regarded as a segmented trend stationary process. On this basis, we find that trend growth of real GDP per person was zero prior to the 1660s but then experienced two significant accelerations, pre- and post-industrial revolution. We also find that the hallmark of the industrial revolution is a substantial increase in the trend rate of growth of industrial output rather than being an episode of difference stationary growth.
    Keywords: growth reversal; industrial revolution; Malthusian model; trend growth JEL Classification: N13; O47
    Date: 2016

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