nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2020‒10‒26
eight papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Why Economics is an Evolutionary, Mathematical Science: How Could Veblen’s View Of Economics Been So Different Than C. S. Peirce’s? By Wible, James R.; Assistant, JHET
  2. Narratives and the Economics of the Family By Akerlof, Robert; Rayo, Luis
  3. Wind of Change? Cultural Determinants of Maternal Labor Supply By Barbara Boelmann; Anna Raute; Uta Schönberg
  4. Ethnographic and Field Data in Historical Economics By Sara Lowes
  5. A Theory of Strategic Uncertainty and Cultural Diversity By Willemien Kets; Alvaro Sandroni
  6. The Race between Population and Technology: Real Wages in the First Industrial Revolution By Crafts, Nicholas; Mills, Terence C.
  7. Navigating cross-cultural research: methodological and ethical considerations By Tanya Broesch; Alyssa Crittenden; Bret A. Beheim; Aaron D. Blackwell; John Bunce; Heidi Colleran; Kristin Hagel; Michelle Kline; Richard Mcelreath; Robin Nelson; Anne Pisor; Sean Prall; Ilaria Pretelli; Benjamin Purzycki; Elizabeth Quinn; Cody Ross; Brooke Scelza; Kathrine Starkweather; Jonathan Stieglitz; Monique Borgerhoff Mulder
  8. Ants, robots, humans: a self-organizing, goal-driven modeling approach By Martin Jaraiz

  1. By: Wible, James R.; Assistant, JHET
    Abstract: More than a century ago one of the most famous essays ever written in American economics appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, “Why is Economics Not an Evolutionary Science?” There Thorstein Veblen claimed that economics was too dominated by a mechanistic view to address the problems of economic life. Since the world and the economy had come to be viewed from an evolutionary perspective after Darwin, it was rather straight forward to argue that the increasingly abstract mathematical character of economics was non-evolutionary. However, Veblen had studied with a first-rate intellect, Charles Sanders Peirce, attending his elementary logic class. If Peirce had written about the future of economics in 1898, it would have been very different than Veblen’s essay. Peirce could have written that economics should become an evolutionary mathematical science and that much of classical and neoclassical economics could be interpreted from an evolutionary perspective.
    Date: 2020–09–29
  2. By: Akerlof, Robert (University of Warwick and CEPR); Rayo, Luis (Kellogg School of Management and CEPR)
    Abstract: We augment Becker’s classic model of the family by assuming that, in addition to caring about consumption, the family wishes to further a subjective story, or narrative, that captures its deeply held values. Our focus is on two stories that in many ways are polar opposites. The first one—the protector narrative—gives rise to a type of traditional family where gender roles are distinct, men and women are pushed towards “separate spheres,” and men are expected to be tough and authoritarian. The second one—the fulfillment narrative—gives rise to a type of modern family where roles are less distinct, family members have greater latitude in their decisions, and marriages are based to a greater extent on romantic love. We derive a rich bundle of behaviors associated with each story, and using survey data, we show that our findings are consistent with a variety of empirical patterns.
    Keywords: family, narratives, gender norms, marriage JEL Classification: D10, Z10
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Barbara Boelmann (University College London); Anna Raute (Queen Mary University of London); Uta Schönberg (University College London)
    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 labour supply behaviour 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
    JEL: J1 J2 Z1
    Date: 2020–10–05
  4. By: Sara Lowes
    Abstract: This chapter will cover recent research in historical economics that uses ethnographic data and data from surveys and lab experiments. The study of historical economics, particularly outside of non-Western countries, has been constrained by availability of historical data. However, recent work incorporates data and tools from other fields and sub-fields to fill this gap. For example, economists are increasingly taking advantage of ethnographic data sets compiled by anthropologists. There is also growing interest in the use of original survey data collection both within and across countries and lab-in-the-field experiments to answer questions on culture and institutions. Often, these tools are used together to provide complementary evidence on the question of interest. These sources of data have been particularly important for research on areas where there is limited historical data, and they have increased the scope of questions that can be examined. This chapter will overview these recent developments and highlight the benefits of these diverse methodologies and data sources.
    JEL: C9 N01 N10 Z1
    Date: 2020–10
  5. By: Willemien Kets; Alvaro Sandroni
    Abstract: We identify a new mechanism through which cultural diversity affects economic out­comes, based on a model of culture as shared cognition. Under this view, cultural diversity matters because it increases strategic uncertainty. The model can help better understand a variety of disparate evidence, including why homogeneous societies can be more con­formist, why diverse societies may get stuck in a low-trust trap, why companies with a strong culture may fail to adopt superior work practices, and why autocratic rulers in diverse societies may overinvest in state capacity.
    Date: 2020–10–15
  6. By: Crafts, Nicholas (University of Sussex); Mills, Terence C. (Loughborough University)
    Abstract: We investigate a structural model of demographic-economic interactions for England during 1570 to 1850. We estimate that the annual rate of population growth consistent with constant real wages was 0.4 per cent before 1760 but 1.5 per cent thereafter. We find that exogenous shocks increased population growth dramatically in the early decades of the Industrial Revolution. Simulations of our model show that if these demographic shocks had occurred before the Industrial Revolution the impact on real wages would have been catastrophic and that these shocks were largely responsible for very slow growth of real wages during the Industrial Revolution.
    Keywords: epidemic disease; Industrial Revolution; Malthusian checks; nuptiality; population growth; real wages; technological progress. JEL Classification: N13; N33
    Date: 2020
  7. By: Tanya Broesch ( - Simon Fraser University); Alyssa Crittenden (WGU Nevada - University of Nevada [Las Vegas]); Bret A. Beheim (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology); Aaron D. Blackwell (WSU - Washington State University); John Bunce (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology); Heidi Colleran (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology); Kristin Hagel (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology); Michelle Kline (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology); Richard Mcelreath (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology); Robin Nelson (Santa Clara University); Anne Pisor (WSU - Washington State University); Sean Prall (Unknown); Ilaria Pretelli (Unknown); Benjamin Purzycki (Unknown); Elizabeth Quinn (Unknown); Cody Ross (Unknown); Brooke Scelza (Unknown); Kathrine Starkweather (Unknown); Jonathan Stieglitz (IAST - Institute for Advanced Studies in Toulouse); Monique Borgerhoff Mulder (Unknown)
    Abstract: The intensifying pace of research based on cross-cultural studies in the social sciences necessitates a discussion of the unique challenges of multi-sited research. Given an increasing demand for social scientists to expand their data collection beyond WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic) populations, there is an urgent need for transdisciplinary conversations on the logistical, scientific and ethical considerations inherent to this type of scholarship. As a group of social scientists engaged in cross-cultural research in psychology and anthropology, we hope to guide prospective cross-cultural researchers through some of the complex scientific and ethical challenges involved in such work: (a) study site selection, (b) community involvement and (c) culturally appropriate research methods. We aim to shed light on some of the difficult ethical quandaries of this type of research. Our recommendation emphasizes a community-centred approach, in which the desires of the community regarding research approach and methodology, community involvement, results communication and distribution, and data sharing are held in the highest regard by the researchers. We argue that such considerations are central to scientific rigour and the foundation of the study of human behaviour.
    Keywords: cross-cultural research,ethics,evolutionary anthropology,psychology
    Date: 2020–09
  8. By: Martin Jaraiz
    Abstract: Most of the grand challenges of humanity today involve complex agent-based systems, such as epidemiology, economics or ecology. However, remains as a pending task the challenge of identifying the general principles underlying the self-organizing capabilities of those complex systems. This article presents a novel modeling approach capable to self-deploy both the system structure and the activities for goal-driven agents that can take appropriate actions to achieve their goals. Humans, robots, and animals are all endowed with this type of behavior. Self-organization is shown to emerge from the decisions of a common rational activity algorithm based on the information of a system-specific goals dependency network. The unique self-deployment feature of this systematic approach can boost considerably the range and depth of application of agent-based modeling.
    Date: 2020–09

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