nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2018‒04‒09
three papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Genetic Diversity and Economic Development : Assessing the Key Findings in Ashraf and Galor (2013) By Raymond Caraher; Michael Ash
  2. "Decessit sine prole" - childlessness, celibacy, and survival of the richest in pre-industrial England By de la Croix, David; Schneider, Eric B.; Weisdorf, Jacob
  3. A theory of cooperation in games with an application to market socialism By John E. Roemer

  1. By: Raymond Caraher (Hampshire College); Michael Ash (Department of Economics and School of Public Policy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
    Abstract: We replicate Ashraf and Galor (2013) and find that its conclusions concerning the association between human genetic diversity and economic development depend substantially on coding errors and sample selection. We correct the coding errors and add or update data on genetic diversity and population density from high-quality sources. We find little support for the hypothesis that variation in genetic diversity among subpopulations has a systematic relationship with economic development.
    Keywords: genetics, development
    JEL: N10 N30 N50 O10 O50 Z10
    Date: 2018
  2. By: de la Croix, David; Schneider, Eric B.; Weisdorf, Jacob
    Abstract: In explaining England's early industrial development, previous research has highlighted that wealthy pre-industrial elites had more surviving offspring than their poorer counter- parts. Thus, entrepreneurial traits spread and helped England grow rich. We contest this view, showing that lowerclass reproduction rates were no different from the elites when accounting for singleness and childlessness. Elites married less and were more often childless. Many died without descendants (decessit sine prole). We find that the middle classes had the highest reproduction and argue that this advantage was instrumental to England's economic success because the middle class invested most strongly in human capital.
    Keywords: fertility; marriage; childlessness; European marriage pattern; Industrial Revolution; evolutionary advantage; social class
    JEL: J12 J13 N33
    Date: 2018–02
  3. By: John E. Roemer (Dept. of Political Science & Cowles Foundation, Yale University)
    Abstract: Economic theory has focused almost exclusively on how humans compete with each other in their economic activity, culminating in general equilibrium (Walras) and game theory (Nash). Cooperation in economic activity is, however, important, and is virtually ignored. Because our models influence our view of the world, this theoretical lacuna biases economists’ interpretation of economic behavior. Here, I propose models that provide micro-foundations for how cooperation is decentralized by economic agents. It is wrong, in particular, to view competition as decentralized and cooperation as organized only by central diktat. My approach is not to alter preferences, which is the strategy behavioral economists have adopted to produce cooperation, but rather to alter the way that agents optimize. Whereas Nash optimizers view other players in the game as part of the environment (parameters), Kantian optimizers view them as part of action. When formalized, this approach resolves the two major failures of Nash optimization from a welfare viewpoint -- the Pareto inefficiency of equilibria in common-pool resource problems (the tragedy of the commons) and the inefficiency of equilibria in public-good games (the free rider problem). An application to market socialism shows that the problems of efficiency and distribution can be completely separated: the dead-weight loss of taxation disappears.
    Keywords: Kantian equilibrium, cooperation, tragedy of the commons, free rider problem, market socialism
    JEL: D50 D60 D70
    Date: 2018–03

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