nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2020‒11‒16
eight papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Expanding the Measurement of Culture with a Sample of Two Billion Humans By Obradovich, Nick; Özak, Ömer; Martín, Ignacio; Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio; Awad, Edmond; Cebrián, Manuel; Cuevas, Rubén; Desmet, Klaus; Rahwan, Iyad; Cuevas, Ángel
  2. Reinterpreting the General Rules of Morality and the Corruption of Moral Sentiments in The Theory of Moral Sentiments with an Evolutionary Game Model By Takahiko Kan
  3. Alfred Marshall, Evolutionary Economics and Climate Change: Raffaelli Lecture By Sheila Dow
  4. Borderline Disorder: (De facto) Historical Ethnic Borders and Contemporary Conflict in Africa By Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio; Özak, Ömer
  5. Towards a model of urban evolution I: context By Silver, Daniel; Fox, Mark; Adler, Patrick
  6. Mothers’ Social Networks and Socioeconomic Gradients of Isolation By Alison Andrew; Orazio P. Attanasio; Britta Augsburg; Jere Behrman; Monimalika Day; Pamela Jervis; Costas Meghir; Angus Phimister
  7. The Evolution of Status Preferences in Anti-Coordination Games By Manuel Staab
  8. A Markov model of urban evolution: Neighbourhood change as a complex process By Silver, Daniel; Silva, Thiago H

  1. By: Obradovich, Nick; Özak, Ömer; Martín, Ignacio; Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio; Awad, Edmond; Cebrián, Manuel; Cuevas, Rubén; Desmet, Klaus; Rahwan, Iyad; Cuevas, Ángel
    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
    JEL: C80 J10 J16 O10 R10 Z10
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Takahiko Kan
    Abstract: Adam Smith is the author of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. He is known mainly as a pioneer of political economy. However, he was not only an economist but also a moral philosopher. He published The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) in 1759. In TMS, he explained an establishment of a social order based on sympathy between people in a society. Sympathy is sharing of sentiments with others by imaginarily swapping situations with others. People in TMS form the impartial spectator and regulate their conduct to be sympathized by the impartial spectator. The impartial spectator is often considered as an important concept in TMS. However, even if people formed the impartial spectator, this does not mean that they can always regulate their conduct. To regulate their conduct absolutely, people need general rules of morality (GRM). People can establish a social order thanks to GRM. Some preceding studies have reinterpreted TMS with various research results in contemporary economics. For example, Meardon & Ortmann (1996) reinterprets self-command by using a repeated game theory model. Ashraf et al. (2005) indicates that Smith foresaw some research findings of behavioral economics. Tajima (2007) reinterprets TMS from a perspective of institutional economics. Breban (2012) formularizes a behavior of people in TMS with a utility function, and compares this function with utility functions in behavioral economics. Khalil (2017) reinterprets TMS from a perspective of rational choice theory. These reinterpretations have shed light on modern significance of TMS. However, there is room for reinterpreting important concepts in TMS with research results in contemporary economics. Following the preceding studies, this paper reinterprets the GRM formation process and the corruption of moral sentiments (CMS) by using a replicator dynamics model, which is a basic model of evolutionary game theory. GRM are the social norms in TMS that concern what is fit and proper either to be done or to be avoided. In TMS, people form GRM through interactions with others. They continually observe conduct of others, and this can lead them to form certain GRM. This paper interprets this observation process as a trial-and-error learning process. To formularize this process, this paper uses a replicator dynamics model. The results of the model clarify the character of sympathy in the CRM. The more sympathetic players exist in a player set, the more corrupted situation is likely to be realized. This result mathematically supports an interpretation in preceding studies (Brown 1994, Griswold 1999) that sympathy involves risk that CMS is progressing. The paper is organized as follows. In the section 2, we briefly describe GRM and the CMS. In the section 3, we construct a model of replicator dynamics. In the section 4, we discuss the results of the model. In the last section, we conclude this paper.
    Date: 2020–09–11
  3. By: Sheila Dow (Department of Economics, University of Victoria)
    Abstract: The way in which any topic is analysed in economics depends on methodological approach. The purpose here is to explore the argument that the way in which climate change is addressed depends on how economics is understood to relate to the physical environment and also to the social and ethical environment. This involves an exploration of the formation of knowledge, both in economics and in the economy. Alfred Marshall’s evolutionary approach to knowledge formation was central to his approach to economics and to his understanding of economic behaviour. Here we consider the application of Marshall’s approach to issues around climate change, through the lens of the subsequent development of evolutionary economics and ecological economics.
    Keywords: Alfred Marshall, evolutionary economics, environmental economics, ecological economics
    Date: 2020–10–19
  4. By: Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio; Özak, Ömer
    Abstract: We explore the effect of historical ethnic borders on contemporary conflict in Africa. We document that both the intensive and extensive margins of contemporary conflict are higher close to historical ethnic borders. Exploiting variations across artificial regions within an ethnicity's historical homeland and a theory-based instrumental variable approach, we find that regions crossed by historical ethnic borders have 27 percentage points higher probability of conflict and 7.9 percentage points higher probability of being the initial location of a conflict. We uncover several key underlying mechanisms: competition for agricultural land, population pressure, cultural similarity and weak property rights.
    Keywords: Borders,Conflict,Territory,Property Rights,Landownership,Population Pressure,Migration,Historical Homelands,Development,Africa,Voronoi Tessellation,Thiessen Tessellation
    JEL: D74 N57 O13 O17 O43 P48 Q15 Q34
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Silver, Daniel; Fox, Mark; Adler, Patrick
    Abstract: This paper seeks to develop the core concepts of a model of urban evolution. It proceeds in four major sections. First we review prior adumbrations of an evolutionary model in urban theory, not-ing their potential and their limitations. Second, we turn to the general sociocultural evolution litera-ture to draw inspiration for a fresh and more complete application of evolutionary theory to the study of urban life. Third, building upon this background, we outline the main elements of our proposed model, with special attention to elaborating the value of its key conceptual innovation, the “formeme.” Last, we conclude with a discussion of what types of research commitments the overall approach does or does not imply, and point toward the more formal elaboration of the model that we undertake in “Towards a Model of Urban Evolution II” and “Towards a Model of Urban Evo-lution III.”
    Date: 2020–10–22
  6. By: Alison Andrew (Institute for Fiscal Studies, University College London); Orazio P. Attanasio (Cowles Foundation, Yale University); Britta Augsburg (Institute for Fiscal Studies); Jere Behrman (University of Pennsylvania); Monimalika Day (Ambedkar University); Pamela Jervis (University of Chile); Costas Meghir (Cowles Foundation, Yale University); Angus Phimister (Institute for Fiscal Studies, University College London)
    Abstract: Social connections are fundamental to human wellbeing. This paper examines the social networks of young married women in rural Odisha, India. This is a group, for whom highly-gendered norms around marriage, mobility, and work are likely to shape opportunities to form and maintain meaningful ties with other women. We track the social networks of 2,170 mothers over four years, and ï¬ nd a high degree of isolation. Wealthier women and women more-advantaged castes have smaller social networks than their less-advantaged peers. These gradients are primarily driven by the fact that more-advantaged women are less likely to know other women within their same socioeconomic group than are less-advantaged women are. There exists strong homophily by socioeconomic status that is symmetric across socioeconomic groups. Mediation analysis shows that SES differences in social isolation are strongly associated to caste, ownership of toilets and distance. Further research should investigate the formation and role of female networks.
    Date: 2020–11
  7. By: Manuel Staab
    Abstract: This paper analyses how risk-taking behavior and preferences over consumption rank can emerge as an evolutionary stable equilibrium when agents face an anti-coordination task. If in an otherwise homogeneous society information about relative consumption is available, this cannot be ignored. Despite concavity in the objective function, agents are willing to accept risky gambles to differentiate themselves and thus allow for coordination. This suggests status preferences to be salient in settings where miscoordination is particularly costly.
    Date: 2020–11
  8. By: Silver, Daniel; Silva, Thiago H (University of Toronto)
    Abstract: This paper seeks to advance neighbourhood change research and complexity theories of cities by developing and exploring a Markov model of socio-spatial neighbourhood evolution in Toronto, Canada. First, we classify Toronto neighbourhoods into distinct groups using established geodemographic segmentation techniques, a relatively novel application in this setting. Extending previous studies, we pursue a hierarchical approach to classifying neighbourhoods that situates many neighbourhood types within the city’s broader structure. Our hierarchical approach is able to incorporate a richer set of types than most past research and allows us to study how neighbourhoods' positions within this hierarchy shape their trajectories of change. Second, we use Markov models to identify generative processes that produce patterns of change in the city’s distribution of neighbourhood types. Moreover, we add a spatial component to the Markov process to uncover the extent to which change in one type of neighbourhood depends on the character of nearby neighbourhoods. In contrast to the few studies that have explored Markov models in this research tradition, we validate the model's predictive power. Third, we demonstrate how to use such models in theoretical scenarios considering the impact on the city’s predicted evolutionary trajectory when existing probabilities of neighbourhood transitions or distributions of neighbourhood types would hypothetically change. Markov models of transition patterns prove to be highly accurate in predicting the final distribution of neighbourhood types. Counterfactual scenarios empirically demonstrate urban complexity: small initial changes reverberate throughout the system, and unfold differently depending on their initial geographic distribution. These scenarios show the value of complexity as a framework for interpreting data and guiding scenario-based planning exercises.
    Date: 2020–10–30

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