nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2020‒05‒04
two papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Monogamy: exception or rule? By Alger, Ingela
  2. Ethnic Geography: Measurement and Evidence By Roland Hodler; Michele Valsecchi; Alberto Vesperoni

  1. By: Alger, Ingela
    Abstract: Why are some societies monogamous and others polygynous? Most theories of polygyny in-voke male heterogeneity as an explanation. Arguing that such heterogeneity depends on men’swillingness to compete against each other in the first place, I propose an evolutionary gameto model the evolution of this trait. Lack of competitiveness (and the associated monogamousunions) is shown to be compatible with evolution if male reproductive success decreases withthe number of wives. In a model where the man and his spouse(s) make fertility and child carechoices that aim at maximizing reproductive success, I show that, due to men’s involvement inchild care and female agency over her fertility, male reproductive success is decreasing in thenumber of wives under certain conditions and increasing in others. The model thus sheds lighton the variation in polygyny rates across space and time in human societies.
    JEL: D73 C73
    Date: 2020–04
  2. By: Roland Hodler (Department of Economics, University of St.Gallen; CEPR, London; CESifo, Munich); Michele Valsecchi (New Economic School, Moscow); Alberto Vesperoni (Department of Economics, Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt)
    Abstract: The effects of ethnic geography, i.e., the distribution of ethnic groups across space, on economic, political and social outcomes are not well understood. We develop a novel index of ethnic segregation that takes both ethnic and spatial distances between individuals into account. Importantly, we can decompose this index into indices of spatial dispersion, generalized ethnic fractionalization, and the alignment of spatial and ethnic distances. We use ethnographic maps, spatially disaggregated population data, and language trees to compute these four indices for around 160 countries. We apply these indices to study the relation between ethnic geography and current economic, political and social outcomes. We document that country level quality of government, income and trust increase with the alignment component of segregation, i.e., with the ratio between the country’s actual segregation and the segregation it would have if ethnic groups were represented in each location with population shares identical to their country-level population share. Hence, all else equal, countries where ethnically diverse individuals live farther apart tend to perform better.
    Keywords: Ethnic diversity; ethnic geography; segregation; fractionalization; quality of government; economic development
    JEL: C43 D63 O10 Z13
    Date: 2019–06–03

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