nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2017‒06‒18
four papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Kinship Systems, Cooperation and the Evolution of Culture By Benjamin Enke
  2. Revealing the Economic Consequences of Group Cohesion By Simon Gaechter; Chris Starmer; Fabio Tufano
  3. Tax evasion, intrinsic motivation, and the evolutionary effects of tax reforms By Fabio Lamantia; Mario Pezzino; Fabio Tramontana
  4. Nudging in education: A survey By Mette Trier Damgaard; Helena Skyt Nielsen

  1. By: Benjamin Enke
    Abstract: Cultural psychologists and anthropologists argue that societies have developed heterogeneous systems of social organization to cope with social dilemmas, and that an entire bundle of cultural characteristics has coevolved to enforce cooperation within these different systems. This paper develops a measure of the historical tightness of kinship structures to provide empirical evidence for this large body of theories. In the data, societies with loose ancestral kinship ties cooperate and trust broadly, which is apparently sustained through a belief in moralizing gods, universally applicable moral principles, feelings of guilt, and large-scale institutions. Societies with a historically tightly knit kinship structure, on the other hand, exhibit strong in-group favoritism: they cheat on and are distrusting of out-group members, but readily support in-group members in need. This cooperation scheme is enforced by moral values of in-group loyalty, conformity to tight social norms, emotions of shame, and strong local institutions. These relationships hold across historical ethnicities, contemporary countries, ethnicities within countries, and migrants. The results suggest that religious beliefs, language, emotions, morality, and social norms all coevolved to support specific social cooperation systems.
    JEL: D0 O0
    Date: 2017–06
  2. By: Simon Gaechter (School of Economics, University of Nottingham); Chris Starmer (School of Economics, University of Nottingham); Fabio Tufano (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: We introduce the concept of “group cohesion†to capture the economic consequences of ubiquitous social relationships in group production. We measure group cohesion, adapting the “oneness scale†from psychology. A comprehensive program of new experiments reveals the considerable economic impact of cohesion: higher cohesion groups are significantly more likely to achieve Pareto-superior outcomes in classic weak-link coordination games. We show that effects of cohesion are economically large, robust, and portable. We identify social preferences as a primary mechanism explaining the effects of cohesion. Our results provide proof of concept for group cohesion as a productive new tool of economic research.
    Date: 2017–09
  3. By: Fabio Lamantia; Mario Pezzino; Fabio Tramontana
    Date: 2017
  4. By: Mette Trier Damgaard (Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University, Denmark); Helena Skyt Nielsen (Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University, Denmark)
    Abstract: Can we nudge children, youths and their parents to make better educational decisions? Educational decisions involve immediate costs and potential future benefits. Research suggests that in such settings behavioural barriers (such as lack of self-control, limited attention and social norms) are likely to influence choices. This raises the question whether low cost ”nudges” can improve people’s educational choices. While interventions targeting cognitive or attentional limitations seem to be effective, it is too soon to provide a roadmap for introducing nudges in the education sector.
    Keywords: Behavioural bias, boost policies, education choice, human capital investment
    JEL: D03 D04 I20
    Date: 2017–06–08

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.