nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2020‒09‒14
eight papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Conditional punishment: Descriptive social norms drive negative reciprocity By Xueheng Li; Lucas Molleman; Dennie van Dolder
  2. The Coordinating Power of Social Norms By Francesco Fallucchi; Daniele Nosenzo
  3. Demographic Change and Development from Crowdsourced Genealogies in Early Modern Europe By Guillaume Blanc
  4. Cliometrics and the Evolution of Human Capital By Claude Diebolt; Roger Fouquet; Ralph Hippe
  5. Trust, reciprocity, and social history: New pathways of learning when max U (own reward) fails decisively By Vernon L. Smith
  6. Law and Norms: Empirical Evidence By LANE Tom; NOSENZO Daniele
  7. Fetal origins: A life cycle model of health and aging from conception to death By Dalgaard, Carl-Johan; Hansen, Casper Worm; Strulik, Holger
  8. Behavioral Welfare Economics and Risk Preferences: A Bayesian Approach By Xiaoxue Sherry Gao; Glenn W. Harrison; Rusty Tchernis

  1. By: Xueheng Li (Nanjing Audit University, China); Lucas Molleman (University of Amsterdam); Dennie van Dolder (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
    Abstract: Is punishment of free riders driven by descriptive social norms of cooperation and punishment? We conduct experiments in which participants interact in a one-shot social dilemma with punishment. We study how punishment of free riders is influenced by behavior among members of a payoff-irrelevant reference group. Participants can condition punishment on either the level of cooperation or the level of punishment in the reference group, respectively reflecting descriptive norms of cooperation and punishment. We observe considerable heterogeneity in punishment behavior. Among punishers, the most common strategies are to increase punishment with higher levels of cooperation (‘norm enforcement’), and to increase punishment with higher levels of punishment in the reference group (‘conformist punishment’). By means of a simple dynamic model, we demonstrate that these conditional punishment strategies can substantially promote cooperation: conformist punishment helps cooperation to gain a foothold in a population, and norm enforcement helps to maintain cooperation at high levels. Our study illustrates how punishment is shaped by the social context, and highlights the potential of conditional punishment strategies to promote the emergence and maintenance of cooperation.
    Keywords: Cooperation; peer punishment; decision-making experiment; sanctioning; online experiment; conditional strategies
    Date: 2020–05
  2. By: Francesco Fallucchi (Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)); Daniele Nosenzo (University of Nottingham and Aarhus University)
    Abstract: A popular empirical technique to measure norms uses coordination games to elicit what subjects in an experiment consider appropriate behavior in a given situation (Krupka and Weber, 2013). The Krupka-Weber method works under the assumption that subjects use their normative expectations to solve the coordination game. However, subjects might use alternative focal points to coordinate, in which case the method may deliver distorted measurements of the social norm. We test the vulnerability of the Krupka-Weber method to the presence of alternative salient focal points. We find that the method is robust as long as there are clear normative expectations about what constitutes appropriate behavior. In settings where there is a less clear consensus about the social norm, the method is more vulnerable.
    Keywords: Social Norms; Krupka-Weber method; Coordination; Focal Point; Saliency; Dictator Game.
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Guillaume Blanc (Brown University)
    Abstract: This paper draws on a novel historical dataset crowdsourced from publicly available genealogies to study demographic change and development at the individual level in the distant past. I reconstruct fertility series, identify migration in and out of urban centers, and provide novel measures and stylized facts in a period without census and with millions of ordinary individuals observed in thirty countries. For each country, I carefully show that selection is limited in the data. Then, I document patterns of human mobility, fertility, and adult mortality in Early Modern Europe, through the Industrial Revolution and demographic transition. Finally, I present several findings at a disaggregated level suggesting that substantial and rapid changes in preferences took hold with the Age of Enlightenment and played an important role in the transition from stagnation to growth. In particular, I estimate the onset of the decline in fertility in France in the 1760s, a hundred years before the rest of Europe and earlier than previously thought, and I find a weaker intergenerational persistence of fertility behavior in Europe as early as in the late eighteenth century.
    Keywords: demographic,development,migration,health
    Date: 2020–08–26
  4. By: Claude Diebolt (BETA - Bureau d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - UL - Université de Lorraine - UNISTRA - Université de Strasbourg - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement); Roger Fouquet (Monsanto Company); Ralph Hippe (BETA - Bureau d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UL - Université de Lorraine - UNISTRA - Université de Strasbourg)
    Abstract: Human capital has been seen to be a key factor for current and future economic growth. In a broader sense, it appears that we are moving towards a knowledge economy driven by human capital, technological progress and digitalization. However, although this evolution may be a new trend, similar developments have occurred in history before. In line with this reasoning, the scholarly feld of cliometrics has received ever more attention during the last years. In consequence, this paper presents the foundations of cliometrics, and provides insights into the basic conceptual framework and evolution of human capital during the last centuries.
    Keywords: Human Capital,Cliometrics,ICT,Economic Development,Economic Development JEL codes: I21,N90,O18
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Vernon L. Smith (Chapman University)
    Abstract: This evaluation begins with the BDM protocol—itself a methodological contribution—and the experimental findings. The question of the replicability and robustness of these unexpected results is addressed next in a summary of two subsequent experimental papers. We follow with a discussion of two attempts to explain qua understand the BDM findings; both, however, have methological deficiencies—Reciprocity and Social Preference explanations. Finally, we offer a brief on Adam Smith’s (1759; 1853; hereafter in the text, Sentiments) model of human sociability, based on strictly self-interested actors, that culminates in propositions that (1) account for trust game choices, and (2) predict action in new variations on trust game designs that, in the absence of Adam Smith’s model, would be neither natural or well-motivated.
    Date: 2020
  6. By: LANE Tom; NOSENZO Daniele
    Abstract: A large theoretical literature argues laws exert a causal effect on norms. This paper is the first to provide a clean empirical test of the proposition. Using an incentivized vignette experiment, we directly measure social normsrelating to actions subject to legal thresholds. Results from three samples with around 800 subjects drawn from universities in the UK and China, and the UK general population, show laws often, but not always, influence norms. The strength of the effect varies across different scenarios, with some evidence that it is more powerful when lawbreaking is more likely to be intentional and accurately measurable.
    Keywords: social Norms; Law; Expressive Function of Law
    JEL: C91 C92 K00 K42
    Date: 2020–04
  7. By: Dalgaard, Carl-Johan; Hansen, Casper Worm; Strulik, Holger
    Abstract: The fetal origins hypothesis has received considerable empirical support, both within epidemiology and economics. The present study compares the ability of two rival theoretical frameworks in accounting for the kind of path dependence implied by the fetal origins hypothesis. We argue that while the conventional health capital model is irreconcilable with fetal origins of late-in-life health outcomes, the more recent health deficit model can generate shock amplification consistent with the hypothesis. In order to discuss human health over the life cycle from conception to death, we develop a theory of ontogenetic growth in utero and during childhood, unify it with the theory of adult aging, and discuss the transmission of early-life shocks to late-life health deficit accumulation.
    Keywords: Fetal Origins,Health Capital,Health Deficits,Ontogenetic Growth,In Utero Development
    JEL: I10 J13 D91
    Date: 2020
  8. By: Xiaoxue Sherry Gao; Glenn W. Harrison; Rusty Tchernis
    Abstract: We propose the use of Bayesian estimation of risk preferences of individuals for applications of behavioral welfare economics to evaluate observed choices that involve risk. Bayesian estimation provides more systematic control of the use of informative priors over inferences about risk preferences for each individual in a sample. We demonstrate that these methods make a difference to the rigorous normative evaluation of decisions in a case study of insurance purchases. We also show that hierarchical Bayesian methods can be used to infer welfare reliably and efficiently even with significantly reduced demands on the number of choices that each subject has to make. Finally, we illustrate the natural use of Bayesian methods in the adaptive evaluation of welfare.
    JEL: C11 D6 D81
    Date: 2020–08

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