nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2020‒08‒24
eight papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The Political Economy of Reconciliation: A Theoretical Primer By Atin Basuchoudhary; Andreas Freytag
  2. Childlessness, celibacy and net fertility in pre-industrial England: the middle-class evolutionary advantage By de la Croix, David; Schneider, Eric B.; Weisdorf, Jacob
  4. Religion in Economic History: A Survey By Sascha O. Becker; Jared Rubin; Ludger Woessmann
  5. Weber Revisited: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Nationalism By Felix Kersting; Iris Wohnsiedler; Nikolaus Wolf
  6. Bounded rationality and expectations in economics By Ignazio Visco; Giordano Zevi
  7. The societal and ethical relevance of computational creativity By Michele Loi; Eleonora Vigan\`o; Lonneke van der Plas
  8. Character or context: What explains behavioural dishonesty in low-income countries? By Ines A. Ferreira; Sam Jones; Jorge Mouco

  1. By: Atin Basuchoudhary; Andreas Freytag
    Abstract: Conflicts end. Often though, the roots of future conflict remain in fertile soil. The process of reconciliation among erstwhile enemies may be a way to deter future conflagrations; we have witnessed a number of examples such as in Rwanda or South Africa. However, to be sustainable and effective, this process may require cultural change. We use evolutionary game theory to model this process of cultural change. We postulate three cultures in a population – Conciliatory, Non-conciliatory, and Reciprocative. We then use the replicator dynamic to identify evolutionary stable outcomes. People in our population are boundedly rational. They may, therefore, “belong” to a particular culture. However, they learn to adopt other cultures if it is beneficial. We find first that people can learn to be Non-conciliatory even when Conciliation provides very real benefits. However, a population can learn the reciprocative culture to facilitate reconciliation. Whether it does or not depends on the initial distribution of the population among the three cultures and how people feel about the future. These results are well known in the Evolutionary Game Theory literature. However, to our knowledge, this is the first time these results have been applied to provide insights into post-conflict reconciliation processes.
    Keywords: conflict, reconciliation
    JEL: D78 H12
    Date: 2020
  2. By: de la Croix, David; Schneider, Eric B.; Weisdorf, Jacob
    Abstract: This paper reconsiders the fertility of historical social groups by accounting for singleness and childlessness. We find that the middle class had the highest reproductive success during England's early industrial development. In light of the greater propensity of the middle class to invest in human capital, the rise in the prevalence of these traits in the population could have been instrumental to England's economic success. Unlike earlier results about the survival of the richest, the paper shows that the reproductive success of the rich (and also the poor) were lower than that of the middle class, once accounting for singleness and childlessness. Hence, the prosperity of England over this period can be attributed to the increase in the prevalence of middle-class traits rather than those of the upper (or lower) class.
    Keywords: fertility; marriage; childlessness; European marriage patter; industrial revolution; evolutionary advantage; social class
    JEL: J12 J13 N33
    Date: 2019–09–01
  3. By: Irene Crimaldi (IMT Institute for Advanced Studies [Lucca]); Pierre-Yves Louis (LMA-Poitiers - Laboratoire de Mathématiques et Applications - Université de Poitiers - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Ida Minelli (UNIVAQ - University of L'Aquila [Italy])
    Abstract: Rich get richer rule comforts previously often chosen actions. What is happening to the evolution of individual inclinations to choose an action when agents do interact ? Interaction tends to homogenize while each individual dynamics tends to reinforce its own position. Interacting stochastic systems of reinforced processes were recently considered in many papers, where the asymptotic behavior was proven to exhibit a.s. synchronization. We consider in this paper models where, even if interaction among agents is present, absence of synchronization may happen due to the choice of an individual non-linear reinforcement. We show how these systems can naturally be considered as models for coordination games, technological or opinion dynamics.
    Keywords: CODA models,Technological dynamics,Coordination games,Evolutionary-game theory,Stochastic approximation,Reinforcement learning,Generalized Pólya urn,Non-linear Pólya urn,Urn model,Reinforced stochastic process,Interacting stochastic processes,Interacting agents
    Date: 2020–08–01
  4. By: Sascha O. Becker; Jared Rubin; Ludger Woessmann
    Abstract: This paper surveys the recent social science literature on religion in economic history, covering both socioeconomic causes and consequences of religion. Following the rapidly growing literature, it focuses on the three main monotheisms—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—and on the period up to WWII. Works on Judaism address Jewish occupational specialization, human capital, emancipation, and the causes and consequences of Jewish persecution. One set of papers on Christianity studies the role of the Catholic Church in European economic history since the medieval period. Taking advantage of newly digitized data and advanced econometric techniques, the voluminous literature on the Protestant Reformation studies its socioeconomic causes as well as its consequences for human capital, secularization, political change, technology diffusion, and social outcomes. Works on missionaries show that early access to Christian missions still has political, educational, and economic consequences in present-day Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Much of the economics of Islam focuses on the role that Islam and Islamic institutions played in political-economy outcomes and in the “long divergence” between the Middle East and Western Europe. Finally, cross-country analyses seek to understand the broader determinants of religious practice and its various effects across the world. We highlight three general insights that emerge from this literature. First, the monotheistic character of the Abrahamic religions facilitated a close historical interconnection of religion with political power and conflict. Second, human capital often played a leading role in the interconnection between religion and economic history. Third, many socioeconomic factors matter in the historical development of religions.
    Keywords: religion, economic history, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, economic development, education, persecution, political economy, finance, specialization, trade
    JEL: Z12 N00 J15 I25
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Felix Kersting; Iris Wohnsiedler; Nikolaus Wolf
    Abstract: We revisit Max Weber’s hypothesis on the role of Protestantism for economic development. We show that nationalism is crucial to both, the interpretation of Weber’s Protestant Ethic and empirical tests thereof. For late nineteenth-century Prussia we reject Weber’s suggestion that Protestantism mattered due to an “ascetic compulsion to save”. Moreover, we find that income levels, savings, and literacy rates differed be-tween Germans and Poles, not between Protestants and Catholics, using pooled OLS and IV regressions. We suggest that this result is due to anti-Polish discrimination.
    Keywords: Max Weber, protestantism, nationalism
    JEL: N13 N33 O16 Z12
    Date: 2020
  6. By: Ignazio Visco (Bank of Italy); Giordano Zevi (Bank of Italy)
    Abstract: Starting from Simon’s bounded rationality notion, in this study we consider some of the links between concepts of bounded rationality and the approaches followed by economists in their analysis of the role played by economic agents’ expectations in driving the evolution of the economy through time. We argue that the degree of attention devoted to the formation of expectations by the macroeconomic theory has followed high and low cycles. In recent years, the increasing availability of survey data and the failings of models based on purely rational representative agents have prompted renewed interest in inquiries into the direct measurement of expectations and empirical studies of their formation. The intellectual legacy of Herbert Simon provides a useful guide for both these activities.
    Keywords: bounded rationality, expectations, Herbert Simon
    JEL: B3 D80 D9
    Date: 2020–07
  7. By: Michele Loi; Eleonora Vigan\`o; Lonneke van der Plas
    Abstract: In this paper, we provide a philosophical account of the value of creative systems for individuals and society. We characterize creativity in very broad philosophical terms, encompassing natural, existential, and social creative processes, such as natural evolution and entrepreneurship, and explain why creativity understood in this way is instrumental for advancing human well-being in the long term. We then explain why current mainstream AI tends to be anti-creative, which means that there are moral costs of employing this type of AI in human endeavors, although computational systems that involve creativity are on the rise. In conclusion, there is an argument for ethics to be more hospitable to creativity-enabling AI, which can also be in a trade-off with other values promoted in AI ethics, such as its explainability and accuracy.
    Date: 2020–07
  8. By: Ines A. Ferreira; Sam Jones; Jorge Mouco
    Abstract: We run a lab-in-the-field experiment with 1,060 university students in Mozambique to examine the correlates of behavioural dishonesty, distinguishing between intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Using an incentivized dice game, which yields direct estimates of the propensity to cheat, we find that the effects of demographic and personality traits (e.g., gender, work ethic) generally run in the opposite direction to previous studies.
    Keywords: cheating, dice game, Behaviour, dishonest behaviour, Mozambique, Personality traits, temperature
    Date: 2020

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