nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2019‒11‒04
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Multilevel evolutionary developmental optimization (MEDO): A theoretical framework for understanding preferences and selection dynamics By Adam Safron
  2. Dual decision processes: retrieving preferences when some choices are automatic By Francesco Cerigioni
  3. Adoption History. From Ancient Societies to Contemporary Societies By Silvia Timofti
  4. State Power and Conflict Driven Evolution By David K Levine; Salvatore Modica
  5. Fighting for Not-So-Religious Souls: The Role of Religious Competition in Non-Religious Conflicts By Héctor Galindo Silva; Guy Tchuente; Guy Tchuente
  6. Hipsters and the Cool: A Game Theoretic Analysis of Social Identity, Trends and Fads By Russell Golman; Aditi Jain; Sonica Saraf
  7. Accounting for fetal origins: Health capital vs. health deficits By Dalgaard, Carl-Johan; Hansen, Casper Worm; Strulik, Holger

  1. By: Adam Safron
    Abstract: What is motivation and how does it work? Where do goals come from and how do they vary within and between species and individuals? Why do we prefer some things over others? MEDO is a theoretical framework for understanding these questions in abstract terms, as well as for generating and evaluating specific hypotheses that seek to explain goal-oriented behavior. MEDO views preferences as selective processes influencing the likelihood of particular outcomes, which are more or less consistent with the dynamics underlying those influences. With respect to biological organisms, these patterns must compete and cooperate in shaping system evolution. To the extent that shaping processes are themselves altered by experience, this enables feedback relationships where histories of reward and punishment can impact future motivation. In this way, various biases can undergo either amplification or attenuation, potentially resulting in enduring preferences and orientations. MEDO is unique in that it specifically models all shaping dynamics in terms of natural selection operating on multiple levels--genetic, neural, and cultural--and even considers aspects of development to themselves be evolutionary processes. Thus, MEDO reflects a kind of generalized Darwinism, in that it assumes that natural selection provides a common principle for understanding the emergence of complexity within all dynamical systems in which replication, variation, and selection occur. However, MEDO combines this evolutionary perspective with economic decision theory, which describes both the preferences underlying individual choices, as well as the preferences underlying choices made by engineers in designing optimized systems. In this way, MEDO uses economic decision theory to explain goal-oriented behaviors as well as the interacting evolutionary optimization processes from which they emerge.
    Date: 2019–10
  2. By: Francesco Cerigioni
    Abstract: Evidence from the cognitive sciences suggests that some choices are conscious and reflect individual volition while others tend to be automatic, being driven by analogies with past experiences. Under these circumstances, standard economic modeling might not always be applicable because not all choices are the result of individual tastes. We propose a behavioral model that can be used in standard economic analysis that formalizes the way in which conscious and automatic choices arise by presenting a decision maker comprised of two selves. One self compares past decision problems with the one the decision maker faces and, when the problems are similar enough, it replicates past behavior (Automatic choices). Otherwise, a second self is activated and preferences are maximized (Conscious choices). We then present a novel method capable of identifying a set of conscious choices from observed behavior and discuss its usefulness as a framework for studying asymmetric pricing and empirical puzzles in different settings.
    Keywords: Dual processes, similarity, revealed preferences, fluency, automatic choice
    JEL: D01 D03 D60
    Date: 2019–10
  3. By: Silvia Timofti (Faculty of Economic Sciences and Public Administration, Law specialization from Suceava, Romania)
    Abstract: From the earliest times, the religious factor has said its word on several social systems. The social factor has been of great importance and relevance to the social construction of the communities as well as to the regulation of the various institutions I have chosen the ones that represent the interests of society. Among these institution is adoption, being one of the oldest law institutions. Adoption is a social phenomenon that has undergone changes that have been inevitable and a breakthrough in the turn of the century. This form of social protection of children, adoption, played a particularly important role in antiquity especially in the institutions of the Jews, the Assyrians, the Greeks, the Indians and the Romans, because the adopted person was perceived as the one to represent the perpetuation of the religious and political interests of the people, after the persons who approached the children died.
    Keywords: adoption, adrogation, family, the system of adoption, social protection
    Date: 2019–08
  4. By: David K Levine; Salvatore Modica
    Date: 2019–10–27
  5. By: Héctor Galindo Silva; Guy Tchuente; Guy Tchuente
    Abstract: Abstract Many countries embroiled in non-religious civil conflicts have experienced a dramatic increase in religious competition in recent years. This study examines whether increasing competition between religions affects violence in non-religious conflicts. The study focuses on Colombia, a deeply Catholic country that has suffered one of the world’s longest-running internal conflicts and, in the last few decades, has wit-nessed an intense increase in religious competition between the Catholic Church and new non-Catholic churches. The estimation of a dynamic treatment effect model shows that establishing the first non-Catholic church in a municipality substantially increases the probability of an attack by a left-wing guerrilla group. Further analysis suggests that the increase in guerrilla attacks is associated with the expectation among guerrilla groups that their membership will decline as a consequence of more intense competition with religious groups for followers.
    Keywords: Marketplace for Religion, Armed Conflict
    JEL: H41 O17
    Date: 2019–10–21
  6. By: Russell Golman; Aditi Jain; Sonica Saraf
    Abstract: Cultural trends and popularity cycles can be observed all around us, yet our theories of social influence and identity expression do not explain what perpetuates these complex, often unpredictable social dynamics. We propose a theory of social identity expression based on the opposing, but not mutually exclusive, motives to conform and to be unique among one's neighbors in a social network. We then model the social dynamics that arise from these motives. We find that the dynamics typically enter random walks or stochastic limit cycles rather than converging to a static equilibrium. We also prove that without social network structure or, alternatively, without the uniqueness motive, reasonable adaptive dynamics would necessarily converge to equilibrium. Thus, we show that nuanced psychological assumptions (recognizing preferences for uniqueness along with conformity) and realistic social network structure are both necessary for explaining how complex, unpredictable cultural trends emerge.
    Date: 2019–10
  7. By: Dalgaard, Carl-Johan; Hansen, Casper Worm; Strulik, Holger
    Abstract: The fetal origins hypothesis has received considerable empirical support, both within epidemiology and economics. The present study compares the ability of two rival theoretical frameworks in accounting for the kind of path dependence implied by the fetal origins hypothesis. We argue that while the conventional health capital model is irreconcilable with fetal origins of late-in-life health outcomes, the more recent health deficit model can generate shock amplification consistent with the hypothesis. We also develop a theory of ontogenetic growth in utero and during childhood, unify it with the theory of adult aging, and discuss the transmission of early-life shocks to late-life health deficit accumulation.
    Keywords: Fetal Origins,Health Capital,Health Deficits,Ontogenetic Growth,In Utero Development
    JEL: I10 J13 D91
    Date: 2019

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