nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2020‒08‒31
eight papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The Origins of the Division of Labor in Pre-Industrial Times By Özak, Ömer; Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio
  2. Tying peasants to their land: The rise and fall of private property rights in historical Vietnam By Hoang-Anh Ho
  3. Schumpeter, Neo-Schumpeterianism, and Stra.Tech.Man Evolution of the Firm By Chatzinikolaou, Dimos; Vlados, Charis
  4. The two Revolutions in Economic History By Martina Cioni; Giovanni Federico; Michelangelo Vasta
  5. The Classical and Neoclassical Theoretical Traditions and the Evolutionary Study of the Dynamics of Globalization By Vlados, Charis
  6. Evolutionary Economics and the Stra.Tech.Man Approach of the Firm Into Globalization Dynamics By Chatzinikolaou, Dimos; Vlados, Charis
  7. Are Personality Traits Really Fixed and Does It Matter? By Steven Stillman; Malathi Velamuri
  8. Catastrophe by Design in Population Games: Destabilizing Wasteful Locked-in Technologies By Stefanos Leonardos; Iosif Sakos; Costas Courcoubetis; Georgios Piliouras

  1. By: Özak, Ömer (Southern Methodist University); Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio
    Abstract: This research explores the historical roots of the division of labor in pre-modern societies. Exploiting a variety of identification strategies and a novel ethnic level dataset combining geocoded ethnographic, linguistic and genetic data, it shows that higher levels of intra-ethnic diversity were conducive to economic specialization in the pre-modern era. The findings are robust to a host of geographical, institutional, cultural and historical confounders, and suggest that variation in intra-ethnic diversity is a key predictor of the division of labor in pre-modern times.
    Date: 2020–07–06
  2. By: Hoang-Anh Ho
    Abstract: I present a theory to account for the emergence of land rights in a subsistence agricultural economy. An important feature is that, to maximize tax revenue, an authoritarian state must devise land rights to overcome the informational constraint in registering the population for tax collection. It can do so, given the state capacity is sufficiently high, by owning land and assigning cultivation rights (but not sale or transfer rights) to landless peasants to tie them to their land. The theory gives rise to a testable hypothesis, positing that private ownership of land is less prevalent in areas where population density is higher. In the early 19th century, the new Nguyen Dynasty of historical Vietnam carried out a land registry to establish formal land rights in the whole country. Exploiting this land registry, I discover that private ownership of land is less prevalent in areas where population density is higher. Furthermore, primary accounts and related historical studies show that the mechanism at work is in line with the proposed theory. Thus, the theory in question and the associated empirical evidence show that a strong state could reverse the general process in economic history whereby societies moved towards private land rights as population density increased and land became more scarce.
    Keywords: Land rights,Population density,Historical Vietnam
    JEL: D02 Q15 N45
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Chatzinikolaou, Dimos (Democritus University of Thrace, Department of Economics); Vlados, Charis (Democritus University of Thrace, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: The Schumpeterian way of thinking for the analysis of innovation, as an evolutionary socioeconomic phenomenon, seems to be still of particular usefulness while the fundamental contribution by Nelson and Winter with the “evolutionary theory of economic change” is nowadays one of the most widely cited references in the contexts of “neo-Schumpeterianism.” In a similar evolutionary concern, Vlados (2004) also examines the “dynamics of the triangle of strategy, technology, and management” (Stra.Tech.Man synthesis). The aim of this article is, in particular, to find out to what extent the Stra.Tech.Man approach utilizes and enriches some of the fundamental neo-Schumpeterian contributions by focusing mostly on the evolutionary theory of the firm, the use of evolutionary biology on analyzing socioeconomic phenomena, and the interpretation of structural change into the context of global dynamics. To achieve this goal, we first distinguish some of the criteria/filters that allow for evaluating whether a research contribution can be of neo-Schumpeterian direction. These criteria also help to identify generic concepts of recent neo-Schumpeterian trends in order to formulate a new analytical background based on the Stra.Tech.Man approach.
    Keywords: Schumpeter; Neo-Schumpeterianism; Evolutionary Economics; Evolutionary firm theory; Stra.Tech.Man approach; Global dynamics
    JEL: B15 B52
    Date: 2019–12–22
  4. By: Martina Cioni (Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Siena); Giovanni Federico (Division of Social Sciences, NYUAD and CEPR); Michelangelo Vasta (Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Siena)
    Abstract: This paper compares the Cliometric Revolution, which transformed economic history in the 1960s, with the current developments in the field with a quantitative analysis based on two databases, totalling more than 3,500 articles. We show that the share of Cliometric articles in the top three economic history journals increased from 1958 to 2000 more slowly than some ex-post narratives lead to believe. We outline the developments from 2001 to 2019 by looking at economic history articles published in the top five field economic history journals and in thirteen prominent economics journals. Most articles in these latter deal with economics of the past (‘traditional cliometric’), but quite a few put forward a revolutionary change in the research questions. The ‘persistence studies’ (PS) look for the historical origins of current outcomes, the ‘non-economic outcomes studies’ (NEOS) extend the issues well beyond the traditional boundaries of economics, towards sociology, anthropology and above all political science. This Second Revolution was started by young economists who published in some of the top economics journals following the seminal article by Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinson (2001). We show that some PS have had on average a huge impact in terms of citations and that they have been more successful than the NEOS. We conclude with some musings about the future of economic history. There might be a new synthesis, with scholars integrating a wider range of research questions, ‘traditional cliometric’, PS and NEOS. Or perhaps the field will splinter in three independent research streams.
    Keywords: Cliometric Revolution, Citational success, Economic history journals, Persistence studies
    JEL: N01
    Date: 2020–08
  5. By: Vlados, Charis (Democritus University of Thrace, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: This article aims to present the theoretical foundations of the classical political economy through the contributions of Adam Smith and David Ricardo and to find out how their neoclassical followers interpreted, evaluated, and transformed this classical theoretical basis. Specifically, we analyze from a critical point of view the neoclassical interpretation of globalization by arguing that this theorization is probably insufficient in analytical terms. We conclude that an analytical counterproposal for the relative explanatory insufficiencies of the neoclassical synthesis is based on the modern evolutionary approach of globalization.
    Keywords: Classical political economy; Neoclassical economics critique; Evolutionary approach; Globalization
    JEL: B12 B52 F11
    Date: 2019–10–11
  6. By: Chatzinikolaou, Dimos (Democritus University of Thrace, Department of Economics); Vlados, Charis (Democritus University of Thrace, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: This article aims to examine whether the “Stra.Tech.Man” approach (Vlados, 2004), which explores the dialectical synthesis between strategy, technology, and management inside all socioeconomic organisms fulfills the requirements to be an analysis of evolutionary direction. It tries to answer this question, in particular, by examining the theoretical foundations of evolutionary economics and the subsequent evolutionary theorization of the firm that stems analytically from evolutionary economics. With this goal in mind, an overview of the relatively recent literature is attempted by presenting some of the significant contributions to evolutionary economics and the evolutionary theory of the firm. Next, it examines the specific way of building the Stra.Tech.Man approach on the production process of innovation and change management, by analyzing how this can lead to the structuration of an evolutionary direction of business planning for any socioeconomic organism.
    Keywords: Evolutionary economics; Evolutionary firm theory; Evolutionary approach; Stra.Tech.Man approach; Evolutionary business plan
    JEL: B15 B52
    Date: 2019–10–01
  7. By: Steven Stillman; Malathi Velamuri
    Abstract: A nascent but burgeoning literature examines the importance of non-cognitive skills in determining success across many facets of life. The majority of these papers treat these skills as fixed traits for adults. We estimate the impact of a number of life events on the Big Five personality traits and locus of control. A subset of life events have large impacts on these non-cognitive skills, especially on locus of control. For some events, these impacts persist in the medium-run. We then demonstrate that treating personality traits as fixed can lead to biased estimates of their relationship with socioeconomic outcomes.
    Keywords: personality, non-cognitive skills, life events, fixed traits
    JEL: J24 C18
    Date: 2020
  8. By: Stefanos Leonardos; Iosif Sakos; Costas Courcoubetis; Georgios Piliouras
    Abstract: In multi-agent environments in which coordination is desirable, the history of play often causes lock-in at sub-optimal outcomes. Notoriously, technologies with a significant environmental footprint or high social cost persist despite the successful development of more environmentally friendly and/or socially efficient alternatives. The displacement of the status quo is hindered by entrenched economic interests and network effects. To exacerbate matters, the standard mechanism design approaches based on centralized authorities with the capacity to use preferential subsidies to effectively dictate system outcomes are not always applicable to modern decentralized economies. What other types of mechanisms are feasible? In this paper, we develop and analyze a mechanism that induces transitions from inefficient lock-ins to superior alternatives. This mechanism does not exogenously favor one option over another -- instead, the phase transition emerges endogenously via a standard evolutionary learning model, Q-learning, where agents trade-off exploration and exploitation. Exerting the same transient influence to both the efficient and inefficient technologies encourages exploration and results in irreversible phase transitions and permanent stabilization of the efficient one. On a technical level, our work is based on bifurcation and catastrophe theory, a branch of mathematics that deals with changes in the number and stability properties of equilibria. Critically, our analysis is shown to be structurally robust to significant and even adversarially chosen perturbations to the parameters of both our game and our behavioral model.
    Date: 2020–07

This nep-evo issue is ©2020 by Matthew Baker. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.