nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2021‒01‒25
four papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Is Son Preference Disappearing from Bangladesh? By Asadullah, Niaz; Mansoor, Nazia; Randazzo, Teresa; Wahhaj, Zaki
  2. The Role of Historical Malaria in Institutions and Contemporary Economic Development By Elizabeth Gooch; Jorge Martinez-Vazquez; Bauyrzhan Yedgenov
  3. In brief... The lasting impact of epidemics By Jeremiah Dittmar; Ralph R. Meisenzahl
  4. Silk Roads to Riches: Persistence Along an Ancient Trade Network By Ahmad, Zofia; Chicoine, Luke

  1. By: Asadullah, Niaz (University of Malaya); Mansoor, Nazia (Université Paris-Dauphine); Randazzo, Teresa (University of Kent); Wahhaj, Zaki (University of Kent)
    Abstract: Historically, son preference has been widely prevalent in South Asia, manifested in the form of skewed sex ratios, gender differentials in child mortality, and worse educational investments in daughters versus sons. In the present study, we show, using data from a purposefully designed nationally representative survey for Bangladesh, that among women of childbearing age, son bias in stated fertility preferences has weakened and there is an emerging preference for gender balance. We examine a number of different hypotheses for the decline in son preference, including the increasing availability of female employment in the manufacturing sector, increased female education, and the decline of joint family living. Using survival analysis, we show that in contrast to stated fertility preferences, actual fertility decisions are still shaped by son preference.
    Keywords: fertility, gender bias, birth spacing, female employment, Bangladesh
    JEL: J11 J13 J16 O12
    Date: 2020–12
  2. By: Elizabeth Gooch (Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, USA); Jorge Martinez-Vazquez (International Center for Public Policy, Georgia State University, USA); Bauyrzhan Yedgenov (International Center for Public Policy, Georgia State University, USA)
    Abstract: This research examines the causal impact of institutional quality on economic development from a novel perspective. At the country level, we exploit variation in the malaria prevalence in 1900, just before vector-control methods were developed, to instrument for institutional quality using a two-stage least squares instrumental variables framework. Our instrument is a population-weighted average of malaria endemicity estimates for the year 1900 developed by the WHO in the 1960s. We argue that this measure of historical malaria offers more expansive geographic information about the disease environment than other metrics, and our baseline IV estimates reveal that greater institutional quality causes greater contemporaneous economic growth. Next, we investigate the robustness of these baseline results to alternative explanations, including the role of geography and early colonizers’ experiences, as the causal link between the early disease environmental, institutional quality and contemporary growth. As an additional test of the explanatory power of malaria endemicity, we replace our instrument for settler mortality and replicate the core results from the seminal study on the colonial origins of comparative development by Acemoglu et al. (2001). In summary, we propose that malaria endemicity, estimated for 1900, holistically explains the legacy of early disease on institutional quality development and contemporary economic development.
    Date: 2021–01
  3. By: Jeremiah Dittmar; Ralph R. Meisenzahl
    Abstract: What can we learn about the potential effects of Covid-19 by looking at plagues of the past? According to Jeremiah Dittmar and Ralf Meisenzahl, history suggests that experiences of severe suffering can lead populations to reject poorly performing ruling elites and generate more inclusive social arrangements.
    Keywords: covid-19, plagues, economic history
    Date: 2020–11
  4. By: Ahmad, Zofia; Chicoine, Luke
    Abstract: The Silk Roads were a decentralized network of trade routes that connected ancient cities across Eurasia. Goods, ideas, people, and technology moved along the roads for over 1,500 years. Using a detailed georeferenced map of the entire trade network, this paper finds that areas within 50 KM of the historic location of the Silk Roads have higher levels of economic activity today. The persistent effect of proximity to the ancient trade network is associated with increased access to modern transportation infrastructure and the historical diffusion of technology along the routes but cannot be explained by differences in contemporary or historical levels of population density. This analysis is complemented by individual-level data from 22 countries; we find that districts with populations closest to the Silk Roads have higher rates of inter-group marriage, suggesting a weakening of social boundaries between groups that might possess differential technological knowledge.
    Keywords: ancient trade network; nighttime light intensity; modern transportation infrastructure; technological diffusion; cultural persistence
    JEL: N75 O18 O33 R11 R12
    Date: 2021–01

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