nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2020‒09‒28
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Expanding the Measurement of Culture with a Sample of Two Billion Humans By Nick Obradovich; Ömer Özak; Ignacio Martín; Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín; Edmond Awad; Manuel Cebrián; Rubén Cuevas; Klaus Desmet; Iyad Rahwan; Ángel Cuevas
  2. The Economic Impact of the Black Death By Remi Jedwab; Noel D. Johnson; Mark Koyama
  3. Gender and Culture By Giuliano, Paola
  4. Sustaining Cultural Diversity Through Cross-Cultural Competence By Bunce, John
  5. Bribing to Queue-Jump: An experiment on cultural differences in bribing attitudes among Greeks and Germans By Drichoutis, Andreas C.; Grimm, Veronika; Karakostas, Alexandros
  6. Behavioral Welfare Economics and Risk Preferences: A Bayesian Approach By Gao, Xiaoxue Sherry; Harrison, Glenn; Tchernis, Rusty
  7. Modern Infectious Diseases: Macroeconomic Impacts and Policy Responses By Bloom, David E.; Kuhn, Michael; Prettner, Klaus

  1. By: Nick Obradovich (Center for Humans and Machines, Max Planck Institute for Human Development); Ömer Özak (Southern Methodist University); Ignacio Martín (Universidad Carlos III); Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín (Universidad Carlos III); Edmond Awad (University of Exeter Business School); Manuel Cebrián (Max Planck Institute for Human Development); Rubén Cuevas (Universidad Carlos III); Klaus Desmet (Southern Methodist University); Iyad Rahwan (Max Planck Institute for Human Development); Ángel Cuevas (Universidad Carlos III)
    Abstract: Culture has played a pivotal role in human evolution. Yet, the ability of social scientists to study culture is limited by the currently available measurement instruments. Scholars of culture must regularly choose between scalable but sparse survey-based methods or restricted but rich ethnographic methods. Here, we demonstrate that massive online social networks can advance the study of human culture by providing quantitative, scalable, and high-resolution measurement of behaviorally revealed cultural values and preferences. We employ publicly available data across nearly 60,000 topic dimensions drawn from two billion Facebook users across 225 countries and territories. We first validate that cultural distances calculated from this measurement instrument correspond to traditional survey-based and objective measures of cross-national cultural differences. We then demonstrate that this expanded measure enables rich insight into the cultural landscape globally at previously impossible resolution. We analyze the importance of national borders in shaping culture, explore unique cultural markers that identify subnational population groups, and compare subnational divisiveness to gender divisiveness across countries. The global collection of massive data on human behavior provides a high-dimensional complement to traditional cultural metrics. Further, the granularity of the measure presents enormous promise to advance scholars’ understanding of additional fundamental questions in the social sciences. The measure enables detailed investigation into the geopolitical stability of countries, social cleavages within both small and large-scale human groups, the integration of migrant populations, and the disaffection of certain population groups from the political process, among myriad other potential future applications.
    Keywords: Culture, Cultural Distance, Identity, Regional Culture, Gender Differences, Economic Development
    JEL: C80 F1 J1 O10 R10 Z10
    Date: 2020–09
  2. By: Remi Jedwab (George Washington University); Noel D. Johnson (George Mason University); Mark Koyama (George Mason University)
    Abstract: *This paper is part of a Symposium organized by Dr. Remi Jedwab of the George Washington University that will appear in the Journal of Economic Literature.* The Black Death was the largest demographic shock in European history. We review the evidence for the origins, spread, and mortality of the disease. We document that it was a plausibly exogenous shock to the European economy and trace out its aggregate and local impacts in both the short-run and the long-run. The initial effect of the plague was highly disruptive. Wages and per capita income rose. But, in the long-run, this rise was only sustained in some parts of Europe. The other indirect long-run effects of the Black Death are associated with the growth of Europe relative to the rest of the world, especially Asia and the Middle East (the Great Divergence), a shift in the economic geography of Europe towards the Northwest (the Little Divergence), the demise of serfdom in Western Europe, a decline in the authority of religious institutions, and the emergence of stronger states. Finally, avenues for future research are laid out.
    Keywords: Pandemics; Black Death; Institutions; Cities; Urbanization; Malthusian Theory; Demography; Long-Run Growth;Middle Ages; Europe; Asia
    JEL: N00 N13 I15 I14 J11 O10 O43
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Giuliano, Paola (University of California, Los Angeles)
    Abstract: This paper reviews the literature on gender and culture. Gender gaps in various outcomes (competitiveness, labor force participation, and performance in mathematics, amongst many others) show remarkable differences across countries and tend to persist over time. The economics literature initially explained these differences by looking at standard economic variables such as the level of development, women's education, the expansion of the service sector, and discrimination. More recent literature has argued that gender differences in a variety of outcomes could reflect underlying cultural values and beliefs. This article reviews the literature on the relevance of culture in the determination of different forms of gender gap. I examine how differences in historical situations could have been relevant in generating gender differences and the conditions under which gender norms tend to be stable or to change over time, emphasizing the role of social learning. Finally, I review the role of different forms of cultural transmission in shaping gender differences, distinguishing between channels of vertical transmission (the role of the family), horizontal transmission (the role of peers), and oblique transmission (the role of teachers or role models).
    Keywords: gender, culture, social norms
    JEL: A13 J16 Z1
    Date: 2020–08
  4. By: Bunce, John
    Abstract: In much contemporary political discourse, valued cultural characteristics are threatened by interaction with culturally-distinct others, such as immigrants or a hegemonic majority. Such interaction often fosters cross-cultural competence (CCC), the ability to interact successfully across cultural boundaries. However most theories of cultural dynamics ignore CCC, making cultural diversity incompatible with mutually-beneficial inter-group interaction, and contributing to fears of cultural loss. Here, new theory, incorporating competing developmental paths to CCC and group identity valuation, illuminates how a common strategy of disempowered minorities can counter-intuitively sustain cultural diversity: Given strong group identity, minorities in a structurally-unequal, integrative society can maintain their distinctive cultural norms by learning those of the majority. Simple field methods in an Amazonian population demonstrate how to assess such strategies' effectiveness given predicted dynamics.
    Date: 2020–09–06
  5. By: Drichoutis, Andreas C.; Grimm, Veronika; Karakostas, Alexandros
    Abstract: We study the role of culture on bribing attitudes in a new dynamic bribery game, where the purpose of bribing is to receive a service earlier by bribing to queue-jump. Our queue-jumping game allows us to distinguish between two classes of bribes: (i) queue-jumping bribes, which aim to increase the briber's expected earnings by jumping the queue, and (ii) counter bribes, which aim to maintain the briber's expected earnings by upholding the current order in the queue. In a laboratory experiment, comprised of four treatments that differ in the number of Greeks and Germans in each group, we analyze both cross-cultural and inter-cultural differences in bribing attitudes. In our cross-cultural treatments, we find that Greeks tend to bribe more often than Germans, but only in the early periods of the game. As time progresses, the Germans quickly catch-up, bribing as often as the Greeks. However, the observed differences in bribe rates in the early periods of the game are driven by queue-jumping bribes rather than counter-bribes. As the ratio of counter-bribes to queue-jumping bribes is significantly lower among Greeks relative to Germans, bribing to queue-jump is more profitable in the Greek groups. In our inter-cultural treatments, we find that minorities, irrespective of nationality, bribe less, despite there are no prospects for monetary or reputational gains. We interpret this result as evidence of outgroup favoritism by minority groups.
    Keywords: Antisocial Behavior; Corruption; Cross-Country Experiment; Inter-country Experiment; Social Norms
    JEL: C73 C91 C92 D62 D73 H49 Z10
    Date: 2020–09–09
  6. By: Gao, Xiaoxue Sherry (University of Massachusetts Amherst); Harrison, Glenn (Georgia State University, CEAR); Tchernis, Rusty (Georgia State University)
    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.
    Keywords: behavioral welfare economics, Bayesian Analysis, risk preferences, insurance
    JEL: D6 C11 D81
    Date: 2020–08
  7. By: Bloom, David E. (Harvard University); Kuhn, Michael (Vienna Institute of Demography); Prettner, Klaus (University of Hohenheim)
    Abstract: We discuss and review literature on the macroeconomic effects of epidemics and pandemics since the late 20th century. First, we cover the role of health in driving economic growth and well-being and discuss standard frameworks for assessing the economic burden of infectious diseases. Second, we sketch a general theoretical framework to evaluate the tradeoffs policymakers must consider when addressing infectious diseases and their macroeconomic repercussions. In so doing, we emphasize the dependence of economic consequences on (i) disease characteristics; (ii) inequalities among individuals in terms of susceptibility, preferences, and income; and (iii) cross-country heterogeneities in terms of their institutional and macroeconomic environments. Third, we study pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical policies aimed at mitigating and preventing infectious diseases and their macroeconomic repercussions. Fourth, we discuss the health toll and economic impacts of five infectious diseases: HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, influenza, and COVID-19. Although major epidemics and pandemics can take an enormous human toll and impose a staggering economic burden, early and targeted health and economic policy interventions can often mitigate both to a substantial degree.
    Keywords: inequality, pandemics, epidemics, COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, influenza, infectious disease, economic burden of disease, economic growth, health, economic epidemiology, SIR Model, general equilibrium macroeconomic models, welfare, human capital, health policy
    JEL: D58 E10 E20 I12 I15 I18 I31 O40
    Date: 2020–08

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