nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2020‒07‒13
two papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Genetic diversity, disease prevalence and the coronavirus pandemic By Phiri, Andrew
  2. Economic Development and the Death of the Free Market By Fix, Blair

  1. By: Phiri, Andrew
    Abstract: The COVID-19 disease outbreak is the deadliest viral pandemic our generation has experienced, and much uncertainty exists over the vulnerability of different populations to the virus since a clinically-approved vaccination does not exist. Our study investigates whether evolutionary processes such as genetic diversity and cultural behaviour norms can explain the differences in COVID-19 virus infections and mortalities observed in different countries. Using a sample of 133 countries we find that populations with higher expected genetic heterozygosity and more historical exposure to infectious diseases are associated with lower COVID-19 infections and mortalities. Further investigations reveal two ‘channels’ of transmission. Firstly, a longer migratory distance from the origins of homo sapiens adversely influences expected heterozygosity, which then increases the populations susceptibility to the COVID_19 virus. Secondly, higher disease prevalence leads to higher collectivism (lower individualism) behaviour, which then reduces the populations susceptibility to COVID_19 infections. Our analysis is robust to the inclusion of additional controls and dummies. Policy implications of our findings are discussed.
    Keywords: COVID-19; Expected heterozygosity; Disease prevalence; Collectivism; Individualism; Deep roots.
    JEL: C33 C36 C52 I18 Z1 Z13
    Date: 2020–06–17
  2. By: Fix, Blair (York University)
    Abstract: Free markets are, according to neoclassical economic theory, the most efficient way of organizing human activity. The claim is that individuals can benefit society by acting only in their self interest. In contrast, the evolutionary theory of multilevel selection proposes that groups must suppress the self interest of individuals. They often do so, the evidence suggests, by using hierarchical organization. To test these conflicting theories, I investigate how the 'degree of hierarchy' in societies changes with industrial development. I find that as energy use increases, governments tend to get larger and the relative number of managers tends to grow. Using a numerical model, I infer from this evidence that societies tend to become more hierarchical as energy use grows. This result is inconsistent with the neoclassical theory that individual self-interest is what benefits society. But it is consistent with the theory of multilevel selection, in which groups suppress the self-interest of their members.
    Date: 2020–05–19

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