nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2020‒05‒18
five papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Measuring social mobility rates in earlier and less-documented societies By Gregory Clark
  2. Borderline Disorder: (De facto) Historical Ethnic Borders and Contemporary Conflict in Africa By Özak, Ömer; Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio
  3. Status-Seeking Culture and Development of Capitalism By Chu, Angus C.; Wang, Xilin
  4. Substituting Trust by Technology: A Comparative Study By Johanna Rath
  5. The fall in global fertility: a quantitative model By De Silva, Tiloka; Tenreyro, Silvana

  1. By: Gregory Clark
    Abstract: In societies where surnames are inherited from parents, we can use these names to estimate rates of intergenerational mobility. This paper explains how to make such estimates, and illustrates their use in pre-industrial England and modern Chile and India. These surname estimates have the advantage that they require much less data than traditional parent?child estimates. They are also more robust to errors in status data. Thus, they can be used to estimate social mobility rates in early societies such as England 1300?1800, or in less-developed societies now.
    Keywords: surnames, Intergenerational Mobility, long-run mobility, underlying mobility, group-level mobility
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Özak, Ömer (Southern Methodist University); Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio
    Abstract: We explore the effect of historical ethnic borders on contemporary non-civil conflict in Africa. Exploiting variations across artificial regions (i.e., grids of 50x50km) within an ethnicity's historical homeland, we document that both the intensive and extensive margins of contemporary conflict are concentrated close to historical ethnic borders. Following a theory-based instrumental variable approach, which generates a plausibly exogenous ethno-spatial partition of Africa, we find that grid cells with historical ethnic borders have 27 percentage points higher probability of conflict and 7.9 percentage points higher probability of being the initial location of a conflict. We uncover several key underlying mechanisms: competition for agricultural land, population pressure, cultural similarity and weak property rights.
    Date: 2020–05–14
  3. By: Chu, Angus C.; Wang, Xilin
    Abstract: According to Werner Sombart's classic text Luxury and Capitalism, the status-seeking behavior of individuals may facilitate the development of capitalism and give rise to an early industrialization. In this study, we develop a growth-theoretic framework to formalize this hypothesis by introducing a status-seeking preference into the Schumpeterian growth model of endogenous takeoff. Then, we use the model to explore how this cultural preference affects the transition of an economy from pre-industrial stagnation to modern economic growth. We find that a stronger preference for status seeking causes an earlier takeoff and a positive effect on economic growth in the short run but an overall ambiguous effect on growth in the long run. We also calibrate the model to data to perform a quantitative analysis and find that a stronger status-seeking preference reduces the steady-state equilibrium growth rate under reasonable parameter values. Therefore, the effects of status-seeking behaviors evolve across different stages of economic development.
    Keywords: status seeking; endogenous takeoff; innovation
    JEL: O3 O4
    Date: 2020–04
  4. By: Johanna Rath (Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria)
    Abstract: This study contrasts different effects of applying blockchain technology on a social norm of trust and individual behaviour. The advanced technological features of blockchain could either complete contractual information and prevent coordination failures by substituting the need for trust or allow for some degree of incompleteness in information and favour a reciprocal mechanism of trust to solve for inefficiencies arising out of it. Either way, incomplete information is a necessary condition for the emergence of social norms of trust and reciprocity; hence a change in the completion of contractual information influences the institutional setting that market mechanisms are embedded in. One evolutionary process drives both, the degree of information available and behavioural traits within the society. Technology is neutral, but the way it is applied has different consequences on the institutional setting and thus favours different individual behavioural traits. Blockchain technology might either substitute or complement the need for trust.
    Keywords: trust, incomplete contracts, social norms, coordination failure
    Date: 2020–03
  5. By: De Silva, Tiloka; Tenreyro, Silvana
    Abstract: Over the past six decades, fertility rates fell dramatically in most middle- and low-income countries. To analyze these developments, we study a quanti- tative model of endogenous human capital and fertility choice, augmented to allow for social norms over family size. We parametrize the model using data on socio-economic variables and information on funding for population-control policies aimed at affecting social norms and improving access to contracep- tives. We simulate the implementation of population-control policies to gauge their contribution to the decline in fertility. We find that policies aimed at al- tering family-size norms accelerated and strengthened the decline in fertility, which would have otherwise taken place much more gradually.
    Keywords: Fertility rates; Birth rate; Convergence; macro-development; Malthusian growth; Population poverty
    JEL: J1
    Date: 2019–12–01

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