nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2019‒08‒26
fifteen papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Projective Paternalism By Sandro Ambuehl; B. Douglas Bernheim; Axel Ockenfels
  2. The Behavioralist Goes Door-To-Door: Understanding Household Technological Diffusion Using a Theory-Driven Natural Field Experiment By Matilde Giaccherini; David H. Herberich; David Jimenez-Gomez; John A. List; Giovanni Ponti; Michael K. Price
  3. Diffusion of Gender Norms: Evidence from Stalin's Ethnic Deportations By Jarotschkin, Alexandra; Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina
  4. Self-Control: Determinants, Life Outcomes and Intergenerational Implications By Deborah A. Cobb-Clark; Sarah C. Dahmann; Daniel A. Kamhöfer; Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch
  5. It's Not A Lie If You Believe It: On Norms, Lying, and Self-Serving Belief Distortion By Cristina Bicchieri, Eugen Dimant and Silvia Sonderegger; Eugen Dimant and Silvia Sonderegger; Silvia Sonderegger
  6. Collective Intertemporal Decisions and Heterogeneity in Groups By Daniela Glätzle-Rützler; Philipp Lergetporer; Matthias Sutter
  7. Immigration and the Evolution of Local Cultural Norms By Schmitz, Sophia; Weinhardt, Felix
  8. Optimal similarity judgments in intertemporal choice (and beyond) By Fabrizio Adriani; Silvia Sonderegger
  9. On the Economic Origins of Restrictions on Women's Sexuality By Anke Becker
  10. A Dynamic Game with Interaction between Kantian Players and Nashian Players By Ngo Van Long
  11. Devotion and Development: Religiosity, Education, and Economic Progress in 19th-Century France By Mara P. Squicciarini
  12. Living standards and inequality in the Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the height of University of Edinburgh students in the 1830s By Blum, Matthias; McLaughlin, Eoin
  13. How are Preferences For Commitment Revealed? By Mariana Carrera; Heather Royer; Mark Stehr; Justin Sydnor; Dmitry Taubinsky
  14. Education as self-fulfilment and self-satisfaction By Vicky Donlevy; Barry van Driel; Cecile Hoareau McGrath
  15. Publication Bias and Editorial Statement on Negative Findings By Blanco-Perez, Cristina; Brodeur, Abel

  1. By: Sandro Ambuehl; B. Douglas Bernheim; Axel Ockenfels
    Abstract: We study experimentally when, why, and how people intervene in others’ choices. Choice Architects (CAs) construct opportunity sets containing bundles of time-indexed payments for Choosers. CAs frequently prevent impatient choices despite opportunities to provide advice, believing Choosers benefit. We consider several hypotheses concerning CAs’ motives. A conventional behavioral welfarist acts as a correctly informed social planner; a mistakes-projective paternalist removes options she wishes she could reject when choosing for herself; an ideals-projective paternalist seeks to align others’ choices with her own aspirations. Ideals-projective paternalism provides the best explanation for interventions in the laboratory and rationalizes support for actual paternalistic policies.
    Keywords: paternalism, libertarianism, welfare economics, experiment, false consensus bias
    JEL: D03 D04 H00
    Date: 2019
  2. By: Matilde Giaccherini; David H. Herberich; David Jimenez-Gomez; John A. List; Giovanni Ponti; Michael K. Price
    Abstract: This paper uses a field experiment to estimate behavioral parameters from a structural model of residential adoption of technology. As our model includes both economic and psychological factors, we are able to identify the role of prices, social norms, social pressure, and curiosity on the adoption decision. We find that prices and social norms influence the adoption decision along different margins, opening up the opportunity for economics and psychology to be strong complements in the diffusion process. In addition, welfare estimates from our structural model point to important household heterogeneities: whereas some consumers welcome the opportunity to purchase and learn about the new technology, for others the inconvenience and social pressure of the ask results in negative welfare. As a whole, our findings highlight that the design of optimal technological diffusion policies will require multiple instruments and a recognition of individual household heterogeneities.
    JEL: D9 D91
    Date: 2019–08
  3. By: Jarotschkin, Alexandra; Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina
    Abstract: We study horizontal between-group cultural transmission using a unique historical setting, which combines exogenous group exposure with no control over how and whether the representatives of different groups interact. Stalin's ethnic deportations during WWII moved over 2 million people, the majority of whom were ethnic Germans and Chechens, from the Western parts of the USSR to Central Asia and Siberia. As a result, the native population in the destination locations was exposed to groups with drastically different gender norms, depending on the group composition of the deportees. We estimate the effect of this exposure relying on the fact that within subnational regions the local population was fairly homogeneous, and the deportation destinations were determined by local demand for manual labor, orthogonal to the identity or skills of deportees. Combining historical archival data with contemporary surveys, we document that both the norms of gender equality and of gender discrimination were diffused to the local population exposed to deportee groups with these norms, manifesting itself in changes of attitudes and behavior.
    Keywords: Deportations; Gender norms; Horizontal cultural transmission; Stalin
    Date: 2019–07
  4. By: Deborah A. Cobb-Clark; Sarah C. Dahmann; Daniel A. Kamhöfer; Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch
    Abstract: This paper studies self-control in a nationally representative sample. Using the well-established Tangney scale to measure trait self-control, we find that people’s age as well as the political and economic institutions they are exposed to have an economically meaningful impact on their level of self-control. A higher degree of self-control is, in turn, associated with better health, educational and labor market outcomes as well as greater financial and overall well-being. Parents’ self-control is linked to reduced behavioral problems among their children. Importantly, we demonstrate that self-control is a key behavioral economic construct which adds significant explanatory power beyond other more commonly studied personality traits and economic preference parameters. Our results suggest that self-control is potentially a good target for intervention policies.
    Keywords: self-control; Tangney scale; personality traits; intergenerational transmission
    JEL: D91 J24
    Date: 2019
  5. By: Cristina Bicchieri, Eugen Dimant and Silvia Sonderegger (University of Pennsylvania); Eugen Dimant and Silvia Sonderegger (University of Pennsylvania); Silvia Sonderegger (University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: variant of the \dice under the cup" paradigm, in which subjects' beliefs are elicited in stage 1 before performing the dice task in stage 2. In stage 1, we elicit the subjects' beliefs about (i) majoritarian behavior or (ii) majoritarian normative beliefs in a previous session, and, in order to identify self-serving belief distortion, we vary whether participants are aware or unaware of the upcoming opportunity to lie in the dice task. We find that belief distortion occurs, but only with a specific kind of beliefs. When subjects are aware of the dice task ahead, they convince themselves that lying behavior is widespread in order to justify their lying. In contrast with beliefs about majority behavior, we find that beliefs about the extent to which lying is disapproved of are not distorted. Believing that the majority disapproves of lying does not inhibit own lying. These findings are consistent with a model where agents are conditional norm-followers, and where honest behavior is a strong indicator of disapproval of lying, but disapproval of lying is not a strong indicator of honest behavior.
    Keywords: Cheating, Experiment, Lying, Social Norms, Uncertainty
    Date: 2019–07
  6. By: Daniela Glätzle-Rützler; Philipp Lergetporer; Matthias Sutter
    Abstract: Many important intertemporal decisions, such as investments of firms or households, are made by groups rather than individuals. Little is known what happens to such collective decisions when group members have different incentives for waiting, because the economics literature on group decision making has, so far, assumed homogeneity within groups. In a lab experiment, we study the causal effect of group members’ heterogeneous payoffs from waiting on intertemporal choices. We find that three-person groups behave more patiently than individuals and that this effect is driven by the presence of at least one group member with a high payoff from waiting. We present group chat content, survey data, and additional treatments to uncover the mechanism through which heterogeneity in groups increases patience.
    Keywords: patience, time preferences, group decisions, payoff heterogeneity, experiment
    JEL: C91 C92 D03 D90
    Date: 2019
  7. By: Schmitz, Sophia (Federal Ministry of Finance); Weinhardt, Felix (DIW Berlin)
    Abstract: We study the local evolution of cultural norms in West Germany in reaction to the sudden presence of East Germans who migrated to the West after reunification. These migrants grew up with very high rates of maternal employment, whereas West German families followed the traditional breadwinner-housewife model. We find that West German women increase their labor supply and that this holds within household. We provide additional evidence on stated gender norms, West-East friendships, intermarriage, and childcare infrastructure. The dynamic evolution of the local effects on labor supply is best explained by local cultural learning and endogenous childcare infrastructure.
    Keywords: cultural norms, local learning, gender, immigration
    JEL: J16 J21 D1
    Date: 2019–07
  8. By: Fabrizio Adriani (University of Leicester); Silvia Sonderegger (University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: We use a simple cost-benefit analysis to derive optimal similarity judgments - addressing the question: when should we expect a decision maker to distinguish between different time periods or different prizes? Our key premise is that cognitive resources are costly and are to be deployed only where they really matter. We show that this simple insight can explain a number of observed anomalies, such as: (i) time preference reversal, (ii) magnitude effects, (iii) interval length effects. For each of these phenomena, our approach allows to identify the direction of the bias relative to the benchmark case where cognitive resources are costless. Finally, we show that, when applied to choice under risk, the same insights predict anomalies such as the ratio and certainty effects, and rationalize Rabin's risk aversion paradox. This suggests that the theory may provide a parsimonious explanation of behavioral anomalies in different contexts.
    Keywords: Similarity judgments, Intertemporal Choice, Rational Inattention, Choice Under Risk
    Date: 2019–06
  9. By: Anke Becker
    Abstract: This paper studies the origins and function of customs aimed at restricting women’s sexuality, such as a particularly invasive form of female genital cutting, restrictions on women’s freedom of mobility, and norms about their sexual behavior. The analysis tests the anthropological theory that a particular form of pre-industrial subsistence – pastoralism – favored the adoption of such customs. Pastoralism was characterized by heightened paternity uncertainty due to frequent and often extended periods of male absence from the settlement, implying larger payoffs to imposing restrictions on women’s sexuality. Using within-country variation across 500,000 women in 34 countries, the paper shows that women from historically more pastoral societies (i) are significantly more likely to have undergone infibulation, the most invasive form of female genital cutting; (ii) adhere to more restrictive norms about women’s promiscuity; (iii) are more restricted in their freedom of mobility. Instrumental variable estimations that make use of the ecological determinants of pastoralism support a causal interpretation of the results. The paper further shows that the mechanism behind these patterns is indeed male absence, rather than male dominance, per se, or historical economic development.
    Keywords: infibulation, female sexuality, paternity uncertainty, concern about women’s chastity
    JEL: I15 N30 Z13
    Date: 2019
  10. By: Ngo Van Long
    Abstract: This paper defines the concept of feedback Kant-Nash equilibrium for a discrete-time model of resource exploitation by infinitely-lived Kantian and Nashian players, where we define Kantian agents as those who act in accordance with the categorical imperative. We revisit a well-known dynamic model of the tragedy of the commons and ask what would happen if not all agents are solely motivated by self interest. We establish that even without external punishment of violation of social norms, if a sufficiently large fraction of the population consists of Kantian agents, the tragedy of the commons can be substantially mitigated.
    Keywords: Kantian equilibrium, rule of behavior, categorical imperative
    JEL: C71 D62 D71
    Date: 2019
  11. By: Mara P. Squicciarini
    Abstract: This paper uses a historical setting to study when religion can be a barrier to the diffusion of knowledge and economic development, and through which mechanism. I focus on 19th-century Catholicism and analyze a crucial phase of modern economic growth, the Second Industrial Revolution (1870-1914) in France. In this period, technology became skill-intensive, leading to the introduction of technical education in primary schools. At the same time, the Catholic Church was promoting a particularly antiscientific program and opposed the adoption of a technical curriculum. Using data collected from primary and secondary sources, I exploit preexisting variation in the intensity of Catholicism (i.e., religiosity) among French districts and cantons. I show that, despite a stable spatial distribution of religiosity over time, more religious locations had lower economic development only during the Second Industrial Revolution, but not before. Schooling appears to be the key mechanism: more religious areas saw a slower introduction of the technical curriculum and instead a push for religious education. Religious education, in turn, was negatively associated with industrial development about 10 to15 years later, when school-aged children entered the labor market, and this negative relationship was more pronounced in skill-intensive industrial sectors.
    Keywords: human capital, religiosity, industrialization
    JEL: J24 N13 Z12
    Date: 2019
  12. By: Blum, Matthias; McLaughlin, Eoin
    Abstract: Trends in living standards during the Industrial Revolution is a core debate in economic history. Studies using anthropometric records from institutional sources have found downward trends in living standards during the first half of the nineteenth century. This paper contributes to this literature by utilising an overlooked source of middle and upper class anthropometric data: the height and weight of university students. Combined with more traditional anthropometric sources these data give us a snapshot into the range of living standards experienced by different sections of society in the United Kingdom. Our findings suggest that inequality was most pronounced in Ireland, followed by England. Height inequality in Scotland was still substantial, but somewhat lower in comparison.
    Keywords: height,anthropometrics,Industrial Revolution,economic history,United Kingdom
    JEL: D63 I14 N13
    Date: 2019
  13. By: Mariana Carrera; Heather Royer; Mark Stehr; Justin Sydnor; Dmitry Taubinsky
    Abstract: A large literature treats take-up of commitment contracts, in the form of choice-set restrictions or penalties, as a smoking gun for (awareness of) self-control problems. This paper provides new techniques for examining the validity of this assumption, as well as a new approach for detecting (awareness of) self-control problems. Theoretically, we show that with some uncertainty about the future, demand for commitment contracts is closer to a special case than to a robust implication of models of limited self-control. In a field experiment with 1292 members of a fitness facility, we find that many participants take up commitment contracts both for going to the gym more and for going to the gym less, and there is a significant positive correlation in demand for these two types of contracts. This suggests that commitment contract take-up reflects, at least in part, something other than the desire to change own future behavior, such as demand effects or "noisy valuation." Moreover, we find that commitment contract take-up is negatively related to awareness of self-control problems: a novel information treatment that increased awareness of self-control problems reduced demand for commitment contracts. We address the limitations of using commitment contracts as a measurement tool by showing that a combination of belief forecasts and willingness to pay for linear incentives provides more robust identification of limited self-control and people's awareness of it. We use the methodology to obtain some of the first parameter estimates of partially-sophisticated quasi-hyperbolic discounting in the field.
    JEL: C9 D9 I12
    Date: 2019–08
  14. By: Vicky Donlevy (Ecorys); Barry van Driel (International Association for Intercultural Education); Cecile Hoareau McGrath (Ecorys)
    Abstract: Key drivers of contemporary rapid changes in the educational realm relate to ongoing technological, demographic, economic and social developments in modern European societies. These developments are having an impact on education throughout the lifespan, including a shift to a focus on new types of competences. This shift is becoming increasingly profound in a dynamic, multicultural, and interconnected Europe. The evidence, from various fields of research, shows that non-cognitive competences such as resilience, creativity, and empathy - as well as those noncognitive competences associated with social-emotional learning and active citizenship - have a positive impact on well-being and also performance. This paper takes a closer look at recent developments relating to these issues across the EU, both in terms of challenges and opportunities, and identifies practices that can serve as inspiration for future policies and practices. The paper reviews the literature as well as current practice related to trends, drivers, practices and future developments relating to four key sub-topics: non-cognitive competences as a broader topic; then resilience, creativity, and active citizenship as more specific sub-topics.
    Keywords: Education, Training, Non-Cognitive Competences, Resilience, Creativity, Active Citizenship, Wellbeing
    Date: 2019–08
  15. By: Blanco-Perez, Cristina (University of Ottawa); Brodeur, Abel (University of Ottawa)
    Abstract: In February 2015, the editors of eight health economics journals sent out an editorial statement which aims to reduce the extent of specification searching and reminds referees to accept studies that: "have potential scientific and publication merit regardless of whether such studies' empirical findings do or do not reject null hypotheses". Guided by a pre-analysis, we test whether the editorial statement decreased the extent of publication bias. Our differences-in-differences estimates suggest that the statement decreased the proportion of tests rejecting the null hypothesis by 18 percentage points. Our findings suggest that incentives may be aligned to promote more transparent research.
    Keywords: publication bias, specification searching, pre-analysis plan, research in economics, incentives to publish
    JEL: A11 C13 C44 I10
    Date: 2019–07

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