nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2017‒02‒26
eight papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Coevolution of Cooperation, Preferences and Cooperative Signals in Social Dilemmas. By Müller, Stephan; von Wangenheim, Georg
  2. Family Inequality: Diverging Patterns in Marriage, Cohabitation, and Childbearing By Shelly Lundberg; Robert A. Pollak; Jenna Stearns
  3. Dual decision processes: Retrieving preferences when some choices are intuitive By Francesco Cerigioni
  4. Moralizing Gods and Armed Conflict By Skali, Ahmed
  5. Behavioral Characterizations of Naiveté for Time-Inconsistent Preferences By David S. Ahn; Ryota Iijima; Yves Le Yaouanq; Todd Sarver
  6. A Model of Protests, Revolution, and Information By Salvador Barbera; Matthew O. Jackson
  7. How do people reason in dynamic games? By Chlaß, Nadine; Perea, Andrés
  8. Looks matter: Liguistic relativity and economics By Astghik Mavisakalyan; Clas Weber

  1. By: Müller, Stephan; von Wangenheim, Georg
    Abstract: We study the coevolution of cooperation, preferences and cooperative signals in an environment where individuals engage in a signaling-extended Prisoner's Dilemma. We identify a new type of evolutionary equilibrium -- a transitional equilibrium -- which is constituted and stabilized by the dynamic interaction of multiple Bayesian equilibria. A transitional equilibrium: (1) exists under mild conditions and (2) can stabilize a population that is characterized by the heterogeneity of behavior, preferences, and signaling. We thereby offer an explanation for persistent regularities observed in laboratory and field data on cooperative behavior. Furthermore, this type of equilibria is least demanding with respect to differences in signaling cost between `conditional cooperators' and `opportunists'. Indeed and quite surprisingly, a transitional equilibrium is consistent with `conditional cooperators' bearing higher signaling cost in terms of fitness than `opportunists'.
    JEL: C73 D64 D82
    Date: 2016
  2. By: Shelly Lundberg (University of California Santa Barbara); Robert A. Pollak (Washington University in St. Louis); Jenna Stearns (University of California, Santa Barbara)
    Abstract: The last 60 years have seen the emergence of a dramatic socioeconomic gradient in marriage, divorce, cohabitation, and childbearing. The divide is between college graduates and others: those without four-year degrees have family patterns and trajectories very similar to those of high school graduates. We document these trends and show that, compared with college graduates, less-educated women are more likely to enter into cohabiting partnerships early and bear children while cohabiting, are less likely to transition quickly into marriage, and have much higher divorce rates. There are two broad sets of explanations for these differences. Conventional explanations focus on the diminished economic prospects of less-educated men. We propose an alternative explanation focusing on educational differences in demand for marital commitment. As the gains from traditional gender-based specialization have declined, the value of marriage has decreased relative to cohabitation, which offers many of the gains of co-residence with less commitment. We argue that college graduate parents use marriage as a commitment device to facilitate intensive joint investments in their children. For less educated couples for whom such investments are less desirable or less feasible, commitment and, hence, marriage has less value relative to cohabitation. The resulting socioeconomic divergence has implications for children and for future inequality.
    Keywords: college premium, Marriage, educational attainment, family inequality, household income inequality
    JEL: D10 H31 I30 J10 N30
    Date: 2017–02
  3. By: Francesco Cerigioni
    Abstract: Evidence from cognitive sciences shows that some choices are conscious and re ect individual prefer- ences while others tend to be intuitive, driven by analogies with past experiences. Under these circum- stances, usual economic modeling might not be valid because not all choices are the consequence of individual tastes. We here propose a behavioral model that can be used in standard economic analysis that formalizes how conscious and intuitive choices arise by presenting a decision maker composed by two systems. One system compares past decision problems with the one the decision maker faces, and it replicates past behavior when the problems are similar enough (Intuitive choices). Otherwise, a second system is activated and preferences are maximized (Conscious choices). We then present a novel method capable of nding conscious choices just from observed behavior and nally, we provide a choice theoretical foundation of the model and discuss its importance as a general framework to study behavioral inertia.
    Keywords: Dual Processes, Fast and Slow Thinking, Similarity, Revealed Preferences, Memory, Intuition
    JEL: D01 D03 D60
    Date: 2016–09
  4. By: Skali, Ahmed
    Abstract: This study documents a robust empirical pattern between moralizing gods, which prescribe fixed laws of morality, and conflict prevalence and fatalities, using spatially referenced data for Africa on contemporary conflicts and ancestral belief systems of individual ethnic groups prior to European contact. Moralizing gods are found to significantly increase conflict prevalence and casualties at the local level. The identification strategy draws on the evolutionary psychology roots of moralizing gods as a solution to the collective action problem in pre-modern societies. A one standard deviation increase in the likelihood of emergence of a moralizing god increases casualties by 18 to 36% and conflict prevalence by 4 to 8% approximately.
    Keywords: Conflict; Commitment Problem; Religion; Africa; Cooperation
    JEL: D74 O55 Z12
    Date: 2017–01–28
  5. By: David S. Ahn (University of California, Berkeley); Ryota Iijima (Cowles Foundation, Yale University); Yves Le Yaouanq (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat); Todd Sarver (Duke University)
    Abstract: We propose nonparametric definitions of absolute and comparative naivete. These definitions leverage ex-ante choice of menu to identify predictions of future behavior and ex-post (random) choices from menus to identify actual behavior. The main advantage of our definitions is their independence from any assumed functional form for the utility function representing behavior. An individual is sophisticated if she is indifferent between choosing from a menu ex post or committing to the actual distribution of choices from that menu ex ante. She is naive if she prefers the flexibility in the menu, reflecting a mistaken belief that she will act more virtuously than she actually will. We propose two definitions of comparative naivete and explore the restrictions implied by our definitions for several prominent models of time inconsistency. Finally, we discuss the implications of general naivete for welfare and the design of commitment devices.
    Keywords: Naive, Sophisticated, Time inconsistent, Comparative statics
    JEL: D90
    Date: 2017–02
  6. By: Salvador Barbera (MOVE, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Barcelona GSE); Matthew O. Jackson (Stanford University)
    Abstract: A revolt or protest succeeds only if sufficient people participate. We study how potential participants' ability to coordinate is affected by their information. We distinguish four phenomena that affect whether information either encourages or inhibits protests and revolutions: (i) Unraveling: When agents learn about each others' types, some are discouraged by meeting partisans of the status quo. This can unravel, as even confident agents realize that enough supporters will be discouraged to preclude a successful revolution. (ii) Homophily: Learning someone else's type under homophily is less informative since that individual is more likely to be similar to the learner. This can lead people to be less confident of a revolution, but can also stop potential unraveling. (iii) Extremism: Meeting other protestors, and seeing pilot demonstrations or outcomes in similar countries, reveal not only how much support for change exists, but also from which constituencies it emerges. This can undercut a revolution if factions differ sufficiently in their preferred changes. (iv) Counter Demonstrations: partisans for the status quo can hold counter-demonstrations to signal their strength. We also discuss why holding mass demonstrations before a revolution may provide better signals of peoples willingness to actively participate than other less costly forms of communication (e.g., via social media), and how governments use redistribution and propaganda to avoid a revolution.
    Keywords: Revolution, demonstration, protests, strikes, Arab Spring JEL Classification Codes: D74, D72, D71, D83, C72
    Date: 2017–02
  7. By: Chlaß, Nadine; Perea, Andrés
    Abstract: Do individuals choose how to a solve a dynamic game or is their mode of reasoning a type-like predisposition? We show experimentally that an individual’s propensity to forwardly or backwardly induct is a function of (i) her belief whether an opponent’s previous action was a trembling hand mistake or a rational choice, and (ii) her personality. In a two-stage game, the individual observes an action of a computerized opponent (stage 1) before both interact (stage 2). The opponent chooses rationally most of the time and makes random choices with a small commonly known likelihood. Hence, the opponent’s action in stage 1 discloses with some probability the opponent’s type (choice) in stage 2. The individual can either believe that (i) the opponent chose randomly in stage 1, or that (ii) the opponent made a rational choice. An individual rationally responds to this belief if she solves stage 2 by backwards induction in the first, and by forward induction in the second case.
    JEL: C73 C91 D82
    Date: 2016
  8. By: Astghik Mavisakalyan (Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Curtin University); Clas Weber (University of Oslo)
    Abstract: The theory of linguistic relativity - the idea that our language influences our thinking - has a long history in the humanities. Speakers of different languages may systematically think and behave differently. This phenomenon has only recently attracted attention from economists. This paper provides the first comprehensive review of this nascent literature. First we explain the linguistic relativity thesis. Then we summarise the empirical evidence on the relationship between linguistic structures and economic outcomes. We follow up with a discussion of empirical design and identification. The paper concludes by discussing implications for future research and policy.
    Keywords: Language, culture, linguistic relativity, economic behaviour
    JEL: D83 J24 Z13
    Date: 2016–12

This nep-evo issue is ©2017 by Matthew Baker. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.