nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2020‒10‒19
five papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The role of behavioural plasticity in finite vs infinite populations By M. Kleshnina; K. Kaveh; K. Chatterjee
  2. Wind of Change? Cultural Determinants of Maternal Labor Supply By Barbara Boelmann; Anna Raute; Uta Schönberg
  3. The Legacy of the Slave Trade: Towards Identifying the Causal Impact of Mistrust in Medicine on Demand for Vaccination in Sub-Saharan Africa By Athias, Laure; Macina, Moudo

  1. By: M. Kleshnina; K. Kaveh; K. Chatterjee
    Abstract: Evolutionary game theory has proven to be an elegant framework providing many fruitful insights in population dynamics and human behaviour. Here, we focus on the aspect of behavioural plasticity and its effect on the evolution of populations. We consider games with only two strategies in both well-mixed infinite and finite populations settings. We assume that individuals might exhibit behavioural plasticity referred to as incompetence of players. We study the effect of such heterogeneity on the outcome of local interactions and, ultimately, on global competition. For instance, a strategy that was dominated before can become desirable from the selection perspective when behavioural plasticity is taken into account. Furthermore, it can ease conditions for a successful fixation in infinite populations' invasions. We demonstrate our findings on the examples of Prisoners' Dilemma and Snowdrift game, where we define conditions under which cooperation can be promoted.
    Date: 2020–09
  2. By: Barbara Boelmann (Department of Economics, University College London, CReAM and University of Cologne); Anna Raute (Queen Mary University of London, CReAM and CEPR); Uta Schönberg (University College London, CReAM and IAB)
    Abstract: Does the culture in which a woman grows up influence her labor market decisions once she has had a child? To what extent might the culture of her present social environment shape maternal labor supply? To address these questions, we exploit the setting of German reunification. A state socialist country, East Germany strongly encouraged mothers to participate in the labor market full-time, whereas West Germany propagated a more traditional male breadwinner-model. After reunification, these two cultures were suddenly thrown together, with consequent increased social interactions between East and West Germans through migration and commuting. A comparison of East and West German mothers on both sides of the former Inner German border within the same commuting zone shows that culture matters. Indeed, East German mothers return to work more quickly and for longer hours than West German mothers even two decades after reunification. Second, in exploiting migration across this old border, we document a strong asymmetry in the persistence of the culture in which women were raised. Whereas East German female migrants return to work earlier and work longer hours than their West German colleagues even after long exposure to the more traditional West German culture, West German migrants adjust their post-birth labor supply behavior nearly entirely to that of their East German colleagues. Finally, taking advantage of differential inflows of East German migrants across West German firms in the aftermath of reunification, we show that even a partial exposure to East German colleagues induces “native†West German mothers to accelerate their return to work after childbirth, suggesting that migration might be a catalyst for cultural change.
    Keywords: cultural transmission, social norms, maternal labor force participation, German reunification
    JEL: J1 J2 Z1
    Date: 2020–10
  3. By: Athias, Laure; Macina, Moudo
    Abstract: There is a large body of anecdotal evidence from sub-Saharan Africa of widespread medical distrust leading to health program failures. In this paper, to isolate an exogenous variation in trust in medicine to explain contemporary health demand in sub-Saharan Africa, we rely on a widespread historical shock: the slave trade. We combine \possessivecite{NunnWantchekon2011} historical data on the slave trade by ethnic group with individual-level data, geolocated at the district level, from the 2010-2014 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) to examine the reduced-form relationship between ancestors’ exposure to the slave trade and children vaccination status against measles. Exploiting variations both within countries and districts, we find that children from mothers whose ancestors were exposed to the slave trade are less likely to be vaccinated. The size of the effect offsets or even dominates the ones obtained for standard determinants of health demand, such as education or revenue. Evidence from a variety of identification strategies shows that the slave trade affects demand for vaccination only through trust in medicine. We then provide explanations for the persistent effect of the slave trade. Consistent with the economic approach, we identify religious affiliations and matrilineal lineage systems as important cultural transmission mechanisms. Consistent with the evolutionary anthropology approach, we point to the similarity of the environment across generations due to colonial and contemporaneous abusive medical treatments to explain persistence of optimal mistrusting behavior.
    Keywords: Trust, Medicine, Slave trade, Health, Culture, Cultural transmission
    JEL: D12 I12 I18 J15 N57 Z13
    Date: 2020–09–16
  4. By: Assistant, JHET; Graf, Rüdiger
    Abstract: The article examines an early and idiosyncratic version of behavioral economics or “empir-ical socio-economics,” which the German economist and taxation expert Günter Schmölders developed in the postwar decades. Relying on both his published papers and his lecture notes and correspondence, it scrutinizes Schmölders’ intellectual upbringing in the tradition of the Historical School of Economics (Historische Schule der Nationalökonomie) and his relation to the emerging ordoliberalism, demonstrating that the roads that led to dissatisfaction with the emerging neoclassical mainstream and the unrealistic behavioral assumptions of macro-economic models were manifold. Accordingly, it shows that behavioral economics is compati-ble with various intellectual and political backgrounds and convictions. Yet, it still forms a dis-tinct entity: Comparing Schmölders with contemporary and later behavioral economists, I will show that they shared essential methodological assumptions as well as an understanding of human beings as decision-making organisms.
    Date: 2020–09–21
  5. By: Thomas, Michael D.; Assistant, JHET
    Abstract: A review of “Humanomics: Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations for the Twenty-First Century" by Vernon L. Smith and Bart J. Wilson
    Date: 2020–09–21

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