nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2017‒07‒30
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change By Giuliano, Paola; Nunn, Nathan
  2. Challenges in research on preferences and personality traits: Measurement, stability, and inference By Golsteyn, Bart H. H.; Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah
  3. Predicting norm enforcement: The individual and joint predictive power of economic preferences, personality, and self-control By Friehe, Tim; Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah
  4. War and Conflict in Economics: Theories, Applications, and Recent Trends By Erik O. Kimbrough; Kevin Laughren; Roman Sheremeta
  5. Conformism, Social Norms and the Dynamics of Assimilation By Olcina, Gonzalo; Panebianco, Fabrizio; Zenou, Yves
  6. The Gift and the Centipede By Egbert, Henrik
  7. The Medieval Roots of Inclusive Institutions: From the Norman Conquest of England to the Great Reform Act By Charles Angelucci; Simone Meraglia; Nico Voigtländer

  1. By: Giuliano, Paola; Nunn, Nathan
    Abstract: When does culture persist and when does it change? We examine a determinant that has been put forth in the anthropology literature: the variability of the environment from one generation to the next. A prediction, which emerges from a class of existing models from evolutionary anthropology, is that following the customs of the previous generation is relatively more beneficial in stable environments where the culture that has evolved up to the previous generation is more likely to be relevant for the subsequent generation. We test this hypothesis by measuring the variability of average temperature across 20-year generations from 500-1900. Looking across countries, ethnic groups, and the descendants of immigrants, we find that populations with ancestors who lived in environments with more stability from one generation to the next place a greater importance in maintaining tradition today. These populations also exhibit more persistence in their traditions over time.
    Keywords: Cultural change; Cultural persistence; weather instability
    JEL: N10 Q54 Z1
    Date: 2017–07
  2. By: Golsteyn, Bart H. H.; Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah
    Abstract: This paper reviews several traditions in economic research on preferences as well as research on personality traits in personality psychology and lists challenges in both fields. We discuss challenges regarding the measurement of preferences and personality traits, challenges regarding the stability of preferences and traits, and challenges when inferring causality. Additionally, we highlight areas in which we see potential benefits from taking into account methodological approaches or insights from the respective other discipline.
    Keywords: Preferences,Personality traits,Measurement,Stability,Causality
    JEL: A12 D03
    Date: 2017
  3. By: Friehe, Tim; Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah
    Abstract: This paper explores the individual and joint predictive power of concepts from economics, psychology, and criminology for individual norm enforcement behavior. More specifically, we consider economic preferences (patience and attitudes towards risk), personality traits from psychology (Big Five and locus of control), and a self-control scale from criminology. Using survey data, we show that the various concepts complement each other in predicting self-reported norm enforcement behavior. The most significant predictors stem from all three disciplines: stronger risk aversion, conscientiousness and neuroticism as well as higher levels of self-control increase an individual's willingness to enforce norms. Taking a broader perspective, our results illustrate that integrating concepts from different disciplines may enhance our understanding of heterogeneity in individual behavior.
    Keywords: norm enforcement,economic preferences,personality traits,self-control
    JEL: K42 D81 D90 C21
    Date: 2017
  4. By: Erik O. Kimbrough (Simon Fraser University); Kevin Laughren (Simon Fraser University); Roman Sheremeta (Case Western Reserve University)
    Abstract: We review the main economic models of war and conflict. These models vary in details, but their implications are qualitatively consistent, highlighting key commonalities across a variety of conflict settings. Recent empirical literature, employing both laboratory and field data, in many cases confirms the basic implications of conflict theory. However, this literature also presents important challenges to the way economists traditionally model conflict. We finish our review by suggesting ways to address these challenges.
    Keywords: conflict, war, contest, all-pay auction, war of attrition
    JEL: D72 D74 F51 F52 F54 H56 N4 Q34
    Date: 2017–07
  5. By: Olcina, Gonzalo; Panebianco, Fabrizio; Zenou, Yves
    Abstract: We consider a model where each individual (or ethnic minority) is embedded in a network of relationships and decides whether or not she wants to be assimilated to the majority norm. Each individual wants her behavior to agree with her personal ideal action or norm but also wants her behavior to be as close as possible to the average assimilation behavior of her peers. We show that there is always convergence to a steady-state and characterize it. We also show that different assimilation norms may emerge in steady state depending on the structure of the network. We then consider an optimal tax/subsidy policy which aim is to reach a certain level of assimilation in the population. We believe that our model sheds light on how the pressure from peers, communities and families affect the long-run assimilation decisions of ethnic minorities.
    Keywords: Assimilation; networks; peer pressure.; Social norms
    JEL: D83 D85 J15 Z13
    Date: 2017–07
  6. By: Egbert, Henrik
    Abstract: This paper addresses the similarity between behavioural economics and social anthropology with respect to approaches on repeated reciprocity. The case at hand is the application of the Centipede game to Marcel Mauss’s concept of the Gift. In a Centipede game players interact in an alternating sequence of decisions to take or to pass an endowment. Mauss describes sequences of reciprocal giving in potlatch cultures, in which strict obligations determine choice options. The paper shows that models developed in behavioural economics, such as the Centipede game, can also be applied to prominent contexts in economic anthropology.
    Keywords: Gift, Centipede game, Potlatch game, Marcel Mauss, reciprocity
    JEL: Z13
    Date: 2017–07–23
  7. By: Charles Angelucci; Simone Meraglia; Nico Voigtländer
    Abstract: The representation of merchant interests in parliaments played a crucial role in constraining monarchs’ power and expanding the protection of property rights. We study the process that led to the inclusion of merchant representatives in the English Parliament, using a novel comprehensive dataset for 550 medieval English towns (boroughs). Our analysis begins with the Norman Conquest in 1066 – an event of enormous political change that resulted in largely homogeneous formal institutions across England. From this starting point, we document a two-step process: First, monitoring issues and asymmetric information led to inefficiencies in the king’s tax collection, especially with the onset of the Commercial Revolution in the 12th century. This gave rise to mutually beneficial agreements (Farm Grants), whereby medieval merchant towns obtained the right of self-administered tax collection and law enforcement. Second, we show that Farm Grants were stepping stones towards representation in the English Parliament after its creation in 1295: local autonomy meant that subsequently, extra-ordinary taxation (e.g., to finance wars) had to be negotiated with towns – and the efficient institution to do so was Parliament. We show that royal boroughs with trade-favoring geography were much more likely to be represented in Parliament, and that this relationship worked through Farm Grants. We also show that medieval self-governance had important long-term consequences and interacted with nationwide institutional changes. Boroughs with medieval Farm Grants had persistently more inclusive local elections of public officials and MPs, they raised troops to support the parliamentarians during the CivilWar in 1642, and they supported the Great Reform Act of 1832, which resulted in the extension of the franchise.
    JEL: D02 D73 N43 P14 P16
    Date: 2017–07

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