nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2018‒08‒13
six papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Somatic Distance, Cultural Affinities, Trust And Trade By Jacques Melitz; Farid Toubal
  2. Social Structure and Conflict: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa By Robinson, James A
  3. "Consumer Theory with Misperceived Tastes" By Geoffroy de Clippel; Kareen Rozen
  4. Sanctioning and Trustworthiness Across Ethnic Groups By Levely, Ian; Bartos, Vojtech
  5. The Emergence of Weak, Despotic and Inclusive States By Robinson, James A
  6. Rhetoric matters: A social norms explanation for the anomaly of framing By Chang, Daphne; Chen, Roy; Krupka, Erin

  1. By: Jacques Melitz (CREST; ENSAE; CEPII); Farid Toubal (CREST; ENS de Paris-Saclay; CEPII)
    Abstract: Somatic distance, or differences in physical appearance, proves to be extremely important in the gravity model of bilateral trade in conformity with results in other areas of economics and outside of it in the social sciences. This is also true quite independently of survey evidence about bilateral trust. These findings are obtained in a sample of the 15 members of the European Economic Association in 1996. Robustness tests also show that somatic distance has a more reliable influence on bilateral trade than the other cultural variables. The article finally discusses the interpretation and the breadth of application of these results.
    Keywords: Somatic distance, Cultural interactions, Trust, Language, Bilateral Trade
    JEL: F10 F40 Z10
    Date: 2018–04–01
  2. By: Robinson, James A
    Abstract: We test the long-standing hypothesis that ethnic groups that are organized around 'segmentary lineages' are more prone to conflict and civil war. Ethnographic accounts suggest that in segmentary lineage societies, which are characterized by strong allegiances to distant relatives, individuals are obligated to come to the defense of fellow lineage members when they become involved in conflicts. As a consequence, small disagreements often escalate to larger-scale conflicts involving many individuals. We test for this link between segmentary lineage and conflict across 145 African ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa. Using a number of estimation strategies, including an RD design at ethnic boundaries, we find that segmentary lineage societies experience more conflicts and ones that are longer in duration and larger in scale. We also find that the previously-documented relationship between adverse rainfall shocks and conflict within Africa is only found within segmentary lineage societies.
    Date: 2018–07
  3. By: Geoffroy de Clippel; Kareen Rozen
    Abstract: Incorporating bounded rationality into the classic consumer theory setting, we study the testable implications of a consumer who may have trouble consistently assessing her subjective tastes. Our model of e-Rationalizability, which bounds the consumer’s misperception of her marginal rates of substitution, may arise from various choice heuristics. It also offers a natural, preference-based measure of departure from rationality that is more demanding than Afriat’s measure.
    Date: 2018
  4. By: Levely, Ian (Wageningen University); Bartos, Vojtech (University of Munich)
    Abstract: We show how sanctioning is more effective in increasing cooperation between groups than within groups. We study this using a trust game among ethnically diverse subjects in Afghanistan. In the experiment, we manipulate i) sanctioning and ii) ethnic identity. We find that sanctioning increases trustworthiness in cross-ethnic interactions, but not when applied by a co-ethnic. While we find higher in-group trustworthiness in the absence of sanctioning, the availability and use of the sanction closes this gap. This has important implications for understanding the effect of institutions in developing societies where ethnic identity is salient. Our results suggest that formal institutions for enforcing cooperation are more effective when applied between, rather than within, ethnic groups, due to behavioral differences in how individuals respond to sanctions.
    Keywords: sanctions; cooperation; crowding out; moral incentives; ethnicity; afghanistan;
    JEL: D01 D02 C93 J41
    Date: 2018–07–24
  5. By: Robinson, James A
    Abstract: Societies under similar geographic and economic conditions and subject to similar external influences nonetheless develop very different types of states. At one extreme are weak states with little capacity and ability to regulate economic or social relations. At the other are despotic states which dominate civil society. Yet there are others which are locked into an ongoing competition with civil society and it is these, not the despotic ones, that develop the greatest capacity. We develop a model of political competition between state (controlled by a ruler or a group of elites) and civil society (representing non-elite citizens), where both players can invest to increase their power. The model leads to different types of steady states depending on initial conditions. One type of steady state, corresponding to a weak state, emerges when civil society is strong relative to the state (e.g., having developed social norms limiting political hierarchy). Another type of steady state, corresponding to a despotic state, originates from initial conditions where the state is powerful and civil society is weak. A third type of steady state, which we refer to as an inclusive state, emerges when state and civil society are more evenly matched. In this last case, each party has greater incentives to invest to keep up with the other, which undergirds the rise of high-capacity states and societies. Our framework highlights that comparative statics with respect to structural factors such as geography, economic conditions or external threats, are conditional - in the sense that depending on initial conditions they can shift a society into or out of the basin of attraction of the inclusive state.
    Date: 2018–07
  6. By: Chang, Daphne; Chen, Roy; Krupka, Erin
    Abstract: Ample evidence shows that certain words or ways of phrasing things can cause us to change our preferences. We demonstrate one mechanism for why this happens - "framing" evokes norms which then influence choice. We use a laboratory study to test the impact of describing a series of dictator games with either politically charged tax- or neutrallyframed language. Subjects' political identities interact with these frames, causing changes in both norms and choices. Framing makes Democrats prefer equalized outcomes, and Republicans reluctant to redistribute payments even when it leaves them disadvantaged.
    Keywords: framing,norms,social identity,altruism
    JEL: C93 D83
    Date: 2018

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