nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2018‒11‒05
five papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Climatic Roots of Loss Aversion By Galor, Oded; Savitskiy, Viacheslav
  2. Culture cumulative, apprentissage social et réseaux sociaux By Claude Meidinger
  3. Circle of Fortune: The Long Term Impact of Western Customs Institutions in China By Jin, Gan
  4. Beyond Grim: Punishment Norms in the Theory of Cooperation By Gabriele Camera; Alessandro Gioffré
  5. Religion, division of labor and conflict: Anti-semitism in Germany over 600 years By Sascha O. Becker; Luigi Pascali

  1. By: Galor, Oded (Brown University); Savitskiy, Viacheslav (Brown University)
    Abstract: This research explores the origins of loss aversion and the variation in its prevalence across regions, nations and ethnic group. It advances the hypothesis and establishes empirically that the evolution of loss aversion in the course of human history can be traced to the adaptation of individuals to the asymmetric effects of climatic shocks on reproductive success during the Malthusian epoch in which subsistence consumption was a binding constraint. Exploiting regional variations in the vulnerability to climatic shocks and their exogenous changes in the course of the Columbian Exchange, the research establishes that consistent with the predictions of the theory, individuals and ethnic groups that are originated in regions marked by greater climatic volatility have higher predisposition towards loss-neutrality, while descendants of regions in which climatic conditions tended to be spatially correlated, and thus shocks were aggregate in nature, are characterized by greater intensity of loss aversion.
    Keywords: loss aversion, cultural evolution, evolution of preferences, natural selection, Malthusian epoch, growth, development
    JEL: D81 D91 Z10 O10 O40
    Date: 2018–09
  2. By: Claude Meidinger (Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne - Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
    Abstract: Discussions about the existence of a culture in non-human species is often concerned by the question whether these species could possess a cognitive complexity sufficient to allow them to imitate others. According to many authors, to imitate is a cognitively sohisticated process that depends on a functionally abstract representation of a problem and its solution, something that non human species do not seem to possess. However, the fast evolution of cognitive performances and of complex inventions in human beings could not be explained only by the improvement of the rate of innovation in individual learning and (or) the improvement of the process of imitation. Such a cumulative evolution depends also on a wider social organization characterized by an increase in the size of the social networks. The simulations displayed here show how such an increase, jointly considered with the diversity of learning processes, allow to better understand the major transitions noted in the cultural evolution of primates and human beings
    Keywords: learning processes; cumulative cultural evolution; social networks; simulations
    JEL: Z1 C63 C92
    Date: 2018–09
  3. By: Jin, Gan
    Abstract: This paper studies the persistent impact of good institutions on economic development in China. By exploiting a British-driven institutional switch in part of China's customs stations in 1902, I find that counties that were more affected by the British customs institutions are also better developed today. Moreover, I show that the institutional switch was exogenous to the pre-colonial development, and I provide different estimation models to reveal a robust and causal relationship between good institutions and economic development.
    Keywords: Institutions,Economic development,Treaty ports,Chinese Maritime Customs Service (CMCS),China
    JEL: N15 O10 P51 N15 O10 P51
    Date: 2018
  4. By: Gabriele Camera; Alessandro Gioffré
    Abstract: The theory of repeated games asserts that, when past conduct is unobservable, patient individuals can attain the efficient outcome if cooperators suffer large losses to defectors, and react by forever defecting. This extreme "grim" punishment is, in fact, counterproductive when losses are small, as it prevents cooperation among patient players. Here we show how to resolve this non-existence problem. A class of moderate punishments exists, which support full cooperation independent of the size of losses to defectors. Our theory provides a rationale for the empirical observation that grim punishment is uncommon in laboratory studies of cooperation.
    Keywords: prisoner’s dilemma, random matching, social norms.
    JEL: E4 E5 C7
    Date: 2018
  5. By: Sascha O. Becker; Luigi Pascali
    Abstract: We study the role of economic incentives in shaping the co-existence of Jews, Catholics and Protestants, using novel data from Germany for 1,000+ cities. The Catholic usury ban and higher literacy rates gave Jews a specific advantage in the moneylending sector. Following the Protestant Reformation (1517), the Jews lost these advantages in regions that became Protestant. We show 1) a change in the geography of anti-Semitism with persecutions of Jews and anti-Jewish publications becoming more common in Protestant areas relative to Catholic areas; 2) a more pronounced change in cities where Jews had already established themselves as moneylenders. These findings are consistent with the interpretation that, following the Protestant Reformation, Jews living in Protestant regions were exposed to competition with the Christian majority, especially in moneylending, leading to an increase in anti-Semitism.
    Keywords: Anti-semitism, religion, conflict, division of labor
    JEL: Z12 O18 N33 N93 D73
    Date: 2018–10

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