nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2021‒01‒04
four papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Millet, Rice, and Isolation: Origins and Persistence of the World's Most Enduring Mega-State By James Kai-sing Kung; Ömer Özak; Louis Putterman; Shuang Shi
  2. On the Origins of the Demographic Transition. Rethinking the European Marriage Pattern By Faustine Perrin
  3. Historical Instruments and Contemporary Endogenous Regressors By Gregory P. Casey; Marc P. B. Klemp
  4. We are all Behavioral, More or Less: A Taxonomy of Consumer Decision Making By Victor Stango; Jonathan Zinman

  1. By: James Kai-sing Kung (The University of Hong Kong); Ömer Özak (Southern Methodist University); Louis Putterman (Brown University); Shuang Shi (The University of Hong Kong)
    Abstract: We propose and empirically test a theory for the endogenous formation and persistence of large states, using China as an example. We suggest that the relative timing of the emergence of agricultural societies and their distance to each other set off a race between autochthonous state-building projects and the expansion of neighboring (proto-)states. Using a novel dataset on the Chinese state's historical presence, the timing of agricultural adoption, social complexity, climate, and geography across 1x1 degree grid cells in East Asia, we provide empirical support for this hypothesis. Specifically, we find that on average, cells that adopted agriculture earlier or were close to the earliest archaic state in East Asia (Erlitou) remained longer under Sinitic control. In contrast, earlier adoption of agriculture decreased the persistent control of the Chinese state in cells farther than 2.8 weeks of travel from Erlitou.
    Keywords: Comparative Development, State-Building, Emergence of States, Agricultural Adoption, Isolation, Neolithic Revolution, Social Complexity, East Asia, China, Erlitou
    JEL: F50 F59 H70 H79 N90 O10 R10 Z10 Z13
    Date: 2020–12
  2. By: Faustine Perrin (Lund University)
    Abstract: Why did France experience the demographic transition first? This question remains one of the greatest puzzles of economics, demography, and economic history. The French pattern is hard to reconcile with elucidations of the process as found in other countries. The present analysis goes back to the roots of the process and offers novel ways of explaining why people started to control their fertility in France and how they did so. In this paper, I track the evolution of marriage patterns to a point before the premises of the demographic transition. I identify three distinct phases. Next, I rely on exploratory methods to classify French counties based on their discriminatory features. Five profiles emerge. I discuss these profiles through the lens of the French Revolution, one of the greatest events that ever occurred in French history, which irretrievably altered its society. In particular, the results show that the fertility transition was not as linear, but more complex than previous research had argued. They show the importance of accounting for cultural factors and for individuals’ predispositions to adapt more or less quickly to societal changes. Yet cultural factors are not all. They can help to explain the timing of the transition and the choice of methods used to control fertility, but modernity and gender equality are also needed to describe the mechanisms in play behind the process.
    Keywords: Demographic Transition, European Marriage Pattern, French Revolution, Gender Equality, Women Empowerment
    JEL: J12 J13 J16 N33 O15 O18 Z12
    Date: 2020–12
  3. By: Gregory P. Casey; Marc P. B. Klemp
    Abstract: We provide a simple framework for interpreting instrumental variable regressions when there is a gap in time between the impact of the instrument and the measurement of the endogenous variable, highlighting a particular violation of the exclusion restriction that can arise in this setting. In the presence of this violation, conventional IV regressions do not consistently estimate a structural parameter of interest. Building on our framework, we develop a simple empirical method to estimate the long-run effect of the endogenous variable. We use our bias correction method to examine the role of institutions in economic development, following Acemoglu et al. (2001). We find long-run coefficients that are smaller than the coefficients from the existing literature, demonstrating the quantitative importance of our framework.
    Keywords: long-run economic development, instrumental variable regression
    JEL: C10 C30 O10 O40
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Victor Stango; Jonathan Zinman
    Abstract: We examine how 17 behavioral biases relate to each other, to other decision inputs, and to decision outputs. Most consumers exhibit multiple biases in our nationally representative panel data. There is substantial heterogeneity across consumers, even within similar demographic/skill groups. Biases are positively correlated within person, especially after adjusting for measurement error, and less correlated with other inputs—risk aversion, patience, cognitive skills, and personality traits—with some expected exceptions. Accounting for this correlation structure, we reduce our 29 decision inputs to eight common factors. Seven common factors load on at least two biases, six on clusters of theoretically related biases, and two or three are distinctly behavioral. All but one common factor is distinct from cognitive skills. Factor scores strongly conditionally correlate with decisions and outcomes in various domains. We discuss several potential implications of this taxonomy for various approaches to modeling influences of behavioral biases on decision making.
    JEL: C36 C81 D90 E70
    Date: 2020–11

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