nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2017‒07‒16
three papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Tragedy of the Commons and Evolutionary Games in Social Networks: The Economics of Social Punishment By Jorge Marco; Renan Goetz
  2. The Wealth of Nations: Complexity Science for an Interdisciplinary Approach in Economics By Klaus Jaffe
  3. Some notes on population history, the demographic transition and the demographic future of the world By Michele Bruni

  1. By: Jorge Marco (University of Girona); Renan Goetz (University of Girona)
    Abstract: This study revisits the problem of the tragedy of the commons. Extracting agents participate in an evolutionary game in a complex social network and are subject to social pressure if they do not comply with the social norms. Social pressure depends on the dynamics of the resource, the network and the population of compliers. We analyze the influence the network structure has on the agents’ behavior and determine the economic value of the intangible good - social pressure. For a socially optimal management of the resource, an initially high share of compliers is necessary but is not sufficient. The analysis shows the extent to which the remaining level of the resource, the share of compliers and the size, density and local cohesiveness of the network contribute to overcoming the tragedy of the commons. The study suggests that the origin of the problem – shortsighted behavior - is also the starting point for a solution in the form of a one-time payment. A numerical analysis of a social network comprising 7500 agents and a realistic topological structure is performed using empirical data from the western La Mancha aquifer in Spain.
    Keywords: Tragedy of the Commons, Cooperation, Evolutionary Game, Social Network, Social Punishment
    JEL: C71 D85 Q25
    Date: 2017–07
  2. By: Klaus Jaffe
    Abstract: Classic economic science is reaching the limits of its explanatory powers. Complexity science uses an increasingly larger set of different methods to analyze physical, biological, cultural, social, and economic factors, providing a broader understanding of the socio-economic dynamics involved in the development of nations worldwide. The use of tools developed in the natural sciences, such as thermodynamics, evolutionary biology, and analysis of complex systems, help us to integrate aspects, formerly reserved to the social sciences, with the natural sciences. This integration reveals details of the synergistic mechanisms that drive the evolution of societies. By doing so, we increase the available alternatives for economic analysis and provide ways to increase the efficiency of decision-making mechanisms in complex social contexts. This interdisciplinary analysis seeks to deepen our understanding of why chronic poverty is still common, and how the emergence of prosperous technological societies can be made possible. This understanding should increase the chances of achieving a sustainable, harmonious and prosperous future for humanity. The analysis evidences that complex fundamental economic problems require multidisciplinary approaches and rigorous application of the scientific method if we want to advance significantly our understanding of them. The analysis reveals viable routes for the generation of wealth and the reduction of poverty, but also reveals huge gaps in our knowledge about the dynamics of our societies and about the means to guide social development towards a better future for all.
    Date: 2017–07
  3. By: Michele Bruni
    Abstract: A short summary of human population history, a critical analysis of available empirical evidence and an interpretation of data free of reverence toward the dominant theories bring to the conclusion that up to now the human population has experienced only two demographic regimes. The first was characterized by high rates of mortality and fertility. Its main characteristic was that man did not have the capability to control fertility and intervene on mortality so that periods of high demographic growth were followed by periods of pronounced demographic decline. In spite of this, at the end, the demographic history of men has been a success story. It is then argued that around 1850 an unprecedented demographic revolution was ignited by extraordinary advancements in medicine, chemistry and biology, as well as the development of new laboratory tools and techniques that opened the way to the introduction of powerful vaccines. This allowed defeating the most dangerous infectious diseases and waging a successful war against premature death. The final result was that the economically more advanced countries reached a new demographic regime, the modern regime, characterized by low fertility and low mortality rates. The fundamental characteristic of the modern regime is the capability of men to choose and determine his reproductive behavior and to control more and more the causes of death. According to present empirical evidence, the modern regime is not characterized by a demographic equilibrium, but by vastly spread situations of negative natural growth. Finally the paper argues that, in spite of the fact that deaths take place in the natural and chronological order, the modern regime is not necessarily more efficient than the natural regime. The main reason is that in this new demographic situation economic growth brings to demographic disequilibrium and the different historical moments in which the demographic “transition” has started in different countries is creating the preconditions for migration flows of unprecedented size. A paragraph of the paper is also devoted to a revisit and formalization of Carlo Cipolla hypothesis on energy and demographic growth and to the analysis of its validity both in the past and today.
    JEL: J10 J11
    Date: 2017–07

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