nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2018‒06‒25
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Status maximization as a source of fairness in a networked dictator game By Jan E. Snellman; Gerardo I\~niguez; J\'anos Kert\'esz; R. A. Barrio; Kimmo K. Kaski
  2. Ancestral Characteristics of Modern Populations By Giuliano, Paola; Nunn, Nathan
  3. Role of Symmetry in Irrational Choice By Ivan Kozic
  4. The Economics of Language By Victor Ginsburgh; Shlomo Weber
  5. Lifting the Curtain: Backstage Cognition, Frontstage Behavior, and the Interpersonal Transmission of Culture By Lu, Richard; Chatman, Jennifer A.; Goldberg, Amir; Srivastava, Sameer B.
  6. Is a positive relationship between fertility and economic development emerging at the sub-national regional level? Theoretical considerations and evidence from Europe By Fox, Jonathan; Klüsener, Sebastian; Myrskylä, Mikko
  7. Willingness to take risk: The role of risk conception and optimism By Thomas Dohmen; Simone Quercia; Jana Willrodt

  1. By: Jan E. Snellman; Gerardo I\~niguez; J\'anos Kert\'esz; R. A. Barrio; Kimmo K. Kaski
    Abstract: Human behavioural patterns exhibit selfish or competitive, as well as selfless or altruistic tendencies, both of which have demonstrable effects on human social and economic activity. In behavioural economics, such effects have traditionally been illustrated experimentally via simple games like the dictator and ultimatum games. Experiments with these games suggest that, beyond rational economic thinking, human decision-making processes are influenced by social preferences, such as an inclination to fairness. In this study we suggest that the apparent gap between competitive and altruistic human tendencies can be bridged by assuming that people are primarily maximising their status, i.e., a utility function different from simple profit maximisation. To this end we analyse a simple agent-based model, where individuals play the repeated dictator game in a social network they can modify. As model parameters we consider the living costs and the rate at which agents forget infractions by others. We find that individual strategies used in the game vary greatly, from selfish to selfless, and that both of the above parameters determine when individuals form complex and cohesive social networks.
    Date: 2018–06
  2. By: Giuliano, Paola (University of California, Los Angeles); Nunn, Nathan (Harvard University)
    Abstract: We construct a database, with global coverage, that provides measures of the cultural and environmental characteristics of the pre-industrial ancestors of the world's current populations. In this paper, we describe the construction of the database, including the underlying data, the procedure to produce the estimates, and the structure of the final data. We then provide illustrations of some of the variation in the data and provide an illustration of how the data can be used.
    Keywords: historical development, persistence, cultural traits, political institutions
    JEL: N00 Z10 Z13
    Date: 2018–05
  3. By: Ivan Kozic
    Abstract: Symmetry is a fundamental concept in modern physics and other related sciences. Being such a powerful tool, almost all physical theories can be derived from symmetry, and the effectiveness of such an approach is astonishing. Since many physicists do not actually believe that symmetry is a fundamental feature of nature, it seems more likely it is a fundamental feature of human cognition. According to evolutionary psychologists, humans have a sensory bias for symmetry. The unconscious quest for symmetrical patterns has developed as a solution to specific adaptive problems related to survival and reproduction. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that some fundamental concepts in psychology and behavioral economics necessarily involve symmetry. The purpose of this paper is to draw attention to the role of symmetry in decision-making and to illustrate how it can be algebraically operationalized through the use of mathematical group theory.
    Date: 2018–06
  4. By: Victor Ginsburgh; Shlomo Weber
    Abstract: The paper brings together methodological, theoretical, and empirical analysis into the single framework of linguistic diversity. It reflects both historical and contemporary research by economists and other social scientists on the impact of language on economic outcomes and public policies. We examine whether and how language influences human thinking (including emotions) and behavior, analyze the effects of linguistic distances on trade, migrations, financial markets, language learning and its returns. The quantitative foundations of linguistic diversity, which rely on group identification, linguistic distances as well as fractionalization, polarization and disenfranchisement indices are discussed in terms of their empirical challenges and uses. We conclude with an analysis of linguistic policies and shifts of languages and examine their welfare effects and the trade-offs between the development of labor markets and the social costs that they generate in various countries.
    Keywords: Languages, economic behavior, educational linguistic policies, linguistic distances, diversity indices, welfare
    Date: 2018–06
  5. By: Lu, Richard (University of California, Berkeley); Chatman, Jennifer A. (University of California, Berkeley); Goldberg, Amir (Stanford University); Srivastava, Sameer B. (University of California, Berkeley)
    Abstract: From the schoolyard to the boardroom, the pressures of cultural assimilation pervade all walks of social life. Yet people vary in the capacity to fit in culturally, and their fit can wax and wane over time. We examine how individual cognition and social influence produce variation and change in cultural fit. We do so by lifting the curtain between the backstage (cognition) and frontstage (behavior) of cultural fit. We theorize that the backstage comprises two analytically distinct dimensions--perceptual accuracy and value congruence--and that the former matters for normative compliance on the frontstage, whereas the latter does not. We further propose that a person's behavior and perceptual accuracy are both influenced by observations of others' behavior, whereas value congruence is less susceptible to peer influence. Drawing on email and survey data from a mid-sized technology firm, we use the tools of computational linguistics and machine learning to develop longitudinal measures of frontstage and backstage cultural fit. We also take advantage of a reorganization that produced quasi-exogenous shifts in employees' peer groups to identify the causal impact of social influence.
    Date: 2017–10
  6. By: Fox, Jonathan; Klüsener, Sebastian; Myrskylä, Mikko
    Abstract: Evidence for nation-states suggests that the long-standing negative relationship between fertility and economic development might turn positive at high levels of development. The robustness of the reversal continues to be debated. We add to this discussion from a novel angle by considering whether such a reversal could also occur at the sub-national level within highly developed countries. Our contributions are both theoretical and empirical. We first discuss important trends which might foster the emergence of a positive fertility–development relationship across regions of highly developed countries. These include shifts in family policies, changes in the spatial organisation of the economic sphere, and selective international and internal migration processes. In order to explore whether we observe tendencies towards a reversal, we investigate data covering 20 European countries subdivided in 256 regions between 1990 and 2012. We document a weakening of the negative relationship between fertility and economic development within many countries, and among some countries the emergence of a positive relationship. These findings do not seem to be driven by postponement effects alone. However, there is substantial variation in the fertility and the eco
    Keywords: fertility; income; economic development; sub-national regions; regional variations; Europe
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2018–05–08
  7. By: Thomas Dohmen; Simone Quercia; Jana Willrodt
    Abstract: We show that the disposition to focus on favorable or unfavorable outcomes of risky situations affects willingness to take risk as measured by the general risk question. We demonstrate that this disposition, which we call risk conception, is strongly associated with optimism, a stable facet of personality and that it predicts real-life risk taking. The general risk question captures this disposition alongside pure risk preference. This enlightens why the general risk question is a better predictor of behavior under risk across different domains than measures of pure risk preference. Our results also rationalize why risk taking is related to optimism.
    Keywords: risk taking behavior, optimism, preference measures, risk conception
    JEL: D91 C91 D81 D01
    Date: 2018–06

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