nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2018‒06‒18
six papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Group size effects in social evolution By Nöldeke, Georg; Peña, Jorge
  2. A Behavioral Theory of Allocation in the Dictator Game By Osório, António (António Miguel)
  3. Maize and Precolonial Africa By Jevan Cherniwchan; Juan Moreno-Cruz
  4. We are Ninjas: How Economic History has Infiltrated Economics By Claude Diebolt; Michael Haupert
  5. The Cultural Divide By Desmet, Klaus; Wacziarg, Romain
  6. Cooperation Creates Special Moral Obligations By Alexander W. Cappelen; Varun Gauri; Bertil Tungodden

  1. By: Nöldeke, Georg; Peña, Jorge
    Abstract: How the size of social groups affects the evolution of cooperative behaviors is a classic question in evolutionary biology. Here we investigate group size effects in evolutionary games in which individuals choose whether to cooperate or defect. We find that increasing the group size decreases the proportion of cooperators at both stable and unstable rest points of the replicator dynamics. This implies that larger group sizes can have negative effects (by reducing the amount of cooperation at stable polymorphisms) and positive effects (by enlarging the basin of attraction of more cooperative outcomes) on the evolution of cooperation. These two effects can be simultaneously present in games whose evolutionary dynamics features both stable and unstable rest points, such as public goods games with participation thresholds. Our theory recovers and generalizes previous results and is applicable to a broad variety of social interactions that have been studied in the literature.
    Keywords: evolution of cooperation; evolutionary game theory; replicator dynamics; public goods games
    JEL: C73 H41
    Date: 2018–05
  2. By: Osório, António (António Miguel)
    Abstract: This paper attempts to explain the behavior observed in the dictator game without explicitly assuming a utility function. Alternatively, I consider the representative behavior of a society composed of heterogeneous individuals in terms of altruism and self-interest. Based on these two principles, I present an allocation that aggregates the society's preferences. The result depends crucially on the value of the resource under dispute for the dictator. Even if the value of the resource is extremely important for the dictator, the dictator cannot justify a share of the resource larger than 3/4 of the total. An allocation proposing more than this share of the resource cannot reach social consensus. On the other extreme, if the value of the resource is sufficiently unimportant for the society, an equal split of the resource emerges in the limit. Keyword: Dictator Game; Allocation Rules; Altruism; Self-interest; Conflict Resolution. JEL classifi cation: C91, D03, D63, D74.
    Keywords: Disseny d'experiments, Economia del benestar, Decisió de grup, 33 - Economia,
    Date: 2018
  3. By: Jevan Cherniwchan; Juan Moreno-Cruz
    Abstract: Columbus’s arrival in the New World triggered an unprecedented movement of people and crops across the Atlantic Ocean. We study an overlooked part of this Columbian Exchange: the effects of New World crops in Africa. Specifically, we test the hypothesis that the introduction of maize increased population density and Trans-Atlantic slave exports in precolonial Africa. We find robust empirical support for these predictions. We also find little evidence to suggest maize increased economic growth or reduced conflict. Our results suggest that rather than stimulating development, the introduction of maize simply increased the supply of slaves during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
    Keywords: Africa, Columbian exchange, maize, slave trades
    JEL: N57 O13 Q10
    Date: 2018
  4. By: Claude Diebolt (CNRS, BETA, University of Strasbourg Strasbourg, France); Michael Haupert (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse)
    Date: 2018
  5. By: Desmet, Klaus; Wacziarg, Romain
    Abstract: This paper conducts a systematic quantitative study of cultural convergence and divergence in the United States over time. Using the General Social Survey (1972-2016), we assess whether cultural values have grown more or less heterogeneous, both overall and between groups. Groups are defined according to 11 identity cleavages such as gender, religion, ethnic origin, family income quintiles, geographic region, education levels, etc. We find some evidence of greater overall heterogeneity after 1993 when averaging over all available values, yet on many issues heterogeneity changes little. The level of between-group heterogeneity is extremely small: the United States is very pluralistic in terms of cultural attitudes and values, but this diversity is not primarily the result of cultural divides between groups. On average across cleavages and values, we find evidence of falling between-group heterogeneity from 1972 to the late 1990s, and growing divides thereafter. We interpret these findings in light of a model of cultural change where intergenerational transmission and forces of social influence determine the distribution of cultural traits in society.
    Keywords: between-group heterogeneity; cultural convergence; cultural divide; Cultural Evolution; cultural heterogeneity; General Social Survey; United States
    JEL: D70 Z1
    Date: 2018–05
  6. By: Alexander W. Cappelen; Varun Gauri; Bertil Tungodden
    Abstract: A large-scale economic experiment, conducted on a representative sample of the US popula- tion, shows that cooperation creates special moral obligations. Participants in the experiment, acting as impartial spectators, transferred significantly more money to an unlucky worker when two individuals had cooperated than when they had worked independently. We further show that the effect of cooperation is strongly associated with political affiliation, with Democrats attaching significantly more importance to cooperation as a source of moral obligation than Republicans. Our findings shed light on the foundations of redistributive preferences and may contribute to explain the often observed asymmetry in moral concern for different groups of individuals, both nationally and internationally.
    Keywords: cooperation, distributive justice, redistribution
    Date: 2018

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