nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2021‒05‒10
fifteen papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Culture, Institutions & the Long Divergence By Bisin, Alberto; Rubin, Jared; Seror, Avner; Verdier, Thierry
  2. HERSTORY: The rise of self-made women By Nekoei, Arash; Sinn, Fabian
  3. Accounting for the Great Divergence: Recent Findings from Historical National Accounting By Broadberry, Stephen N
  4. Dynamic population games By Ezzat Elokda; Andrea Censi; Saverio Bolognani
  5. A Cross-verified Database of Notable People, 3500BC-2018AD By Bhargava, Palaash; Eyméoud, Jean-Benoît; Gergaud, Olivier; Laouenan, Morgane; Plique, Guillaume; Wasmer, Etienne
  6. Merger or acquisition? An introduction to the Handbook of Historical economics By Bisin, Alberto; Federico, Giovanni
  7. The Influence of Anger on Strategic Cooperative Interactions By Sergio Alessandro Castagnetti; Sebastiano Massaro; Eugenio Proto
  8. Epidemics in modern economies By Heinrich, Torsten
  9. Exploring Diffusion Characteristics that Influence Serious Games Adoption Decisions By Katerina Antonopoulou; Nicholas Dacre
  10. Contacts, Altruism and Competing Externalities By Toxvaerd, Flavio
  11. Homophily, Peer Effects, and Dishonesty By Liza Charroin; Bernard Fortin; Marie Claire Villeval
  12. Africa's Latent Assets By Henn, Soeren; Robinson, James A
  13. Pro-social Motivations, Externalities and Incentives * By Raphael Soubeyran
  14. Gender and Psychological Pressure in Competitive Environments By Booth, Alison L; Nolen, Patrick
  15. The Ocean and Early-Childhood Mortality and Development By Armand, Alex; Kim Taveras, Ivan

  1. By: Bisin, Alberto; Rubin, Jared; Seror, Avner; Verdier, Thierry
    Abstract: Recent theories of the Long Divergence between Middle Eastern and Western European economies focus on Middle Eastern (over-)reliance on religious legitimacy, use of slave soldiers, and persistence of restrictive proscriptions of religious (Islamic) law. These theories take as exogenous the cultural values that complement the prevailing institutions. As a result, they miss the role of cultural values in either supporting the persistence of or inducing change in the economic and institutional environment. In this paper, we address these issues by modeling the joint evolution of institutions and culture. In doing so, we place the various hypotheses of economic divergence into one, unifying framework. We highlight the role that cultural transmission plays in reinforcing institutional evolution toward either theocratic or secular states. We extend the model to shed light on political decentralization and technological change in the two regions.
    Keywords: cultural transmission; institutions; Legitimacy; Long Divergence; religion
    JEL: N34 N35 O10 O33 P16 P48 Z12
    Date: 2021–02
  2. By: Nekoei, Arash; Sinn, Fabian
    Abstract: We document the evolution of women's status across the globe and throughout recorded history. We first construct a new database of seven million notable individuals (Human Biographical Record). We then measure women's status as women's share among the most prominent fraction of population that allows comparison across time and space. The records show no long-run trend in women's share in recorded history. Historically, women's power has been a side-effect of nepotism: the more important family connections, the higher the women's share. But self-made women began to rise among the writers in the 17th century before a broader take off started with the 1800 birth cohort: first among artists and scholars, followed by elected politicians, and finally appointed politicians. The first wave among writers emerged when informal humanist education and new public spheres shaped a supply of literary women, who met the demand of a new female reading public. A strong writer wave predicts a stronger takeoff of self-made women in the 19th century. This effect has persisted and created cross-country divergence.
    Keywords: Big Data; Women emancipation
    JEL: I24 J16 N00
    Date: 2021–01
  3. By: Broadberry, Stephen N
    Abstract: As a result of recent work on historical national accounting, it is now possible to establish more firmly the timing of the Great Divergence of living standards between Europe and Asia in the eighteenth century. There was a European Little Divergence as Britain and the Netherlands overtook Italy and Spain, and an Asian Little Divergence as Japan overtook China and India. The Great Divergence occurred because Japan grew more slowly than Britain and the Netherlands starting from a lower level, and because of a strong negative growth trend in Qing dynasty China. A growth accounting framework is used to assess the contributions of labour, human and physical capital, land and total factor productivity. In addition to these proximate sources, the roles of institutions and geography are examined as the ultimate sources of the divergent growth patterns.
    Keywords: explanation; Great Divergence; living standards; Measurement
    JEL: N10 N30 N35 O10 O57
    Date: 2021–03
  4. By: Ezzat Elokda; Andrea Censi; Saverio Bolognani
    Abstract: In this paper, we define a new class of dynamic games played in large populations of anonymous agents. The behavior of agents in these games depends on a time-homogeneous type and a time-varying state, which are private to each agent and characterize their available actions and motifs. We consider finite type, state, and action spaces. On the individual agent level, the state evolves in discrete-time as the agent participates in interactions, in which the state transitions are affected by the agent's individual action and the distribution of other agents' states and actions. On the societal level, we consider that the agents form a continuum of mass and that interactions occur either synchronously or asynchronously, and derive models for the evolution of the agents' state distribution. We characterize the stationary equilibrium as the solution concept in our games, which is a condition where all agents are playing their best response and the state distribution is stationary. At least one stationary equilibrium is guaranteed to exist in every dynamic population game. Our approach intersects with previous works on anonymous sequential games, mean-field games, and Markov decision evolutionary games, but it is novel in how we relate the dynamic setting to a classical, static population game setting. In particular, stationary equilibria can be reduced to standard Nash equilibria in classical population games. This simplifies the analysis of these games and inspires the formulation of an evolutionary model for the coupled dynamics of both the agents' actions and states.
    Date: 2021–04
  5. By: Bhargava, Palaash; Eyméoud, Jean-Benoît; Gergaud, Olivier; Laouenan, Morgane; Plique, Guillaume; Wasmer, Etienne
    Abstract: We add to the literature on notable individuals (famous, prominent, distinguished) in collecting first a massive amount of data from various editions of Wikipedia and Wikidata along with deduplication techniques; and then using these partially overlapping sources to cross-verify each retrieved information. This strategy results in a cross-verified database of 2.2 million individuals, including a third who are not present in the English edition of Wikipedia. An extension to 4.7 million entries is currently not recommended given the inaccuracy of the information and discrepancies between Wikidata and other sources. A non-negligible fraction of newly-added individuals were collected from non-English editions of Wikipedia. We adopt a social science approach: data collection is driven by specific social questions on gender, economic and cul- tural development and quantitative exploration of cultural trends, that we document in this paper. A sample of 100,000 individuals is available here, together with the most recent version of this paper.
    Keywords: Creative Class; economic history; Notable individuals; Urban Economics
    JEL: N01 N9 R00
    Date: 2021–03
  6. By: Bisin, Alberto; Federico, Giovanni
    Abstract: The relationship between history and economics as academic disciplines is methodologically subtle and sociologically contested. If the Cliometric revolution can be characterized as an acquisition of economics by history, the most recent trends in Historical Economics appear to turn this relationship on its head. In this Introduction we read the chapters of the Handbook as a forceful argument in favor of a merger between the two disciplines rather than the acquisition of one by the other; a merger which combines, notably, the detailed knowledge of historical sources, the capability of distilling complex historical processes into a model, and the statistical/econometric skills for identification and estimation.
    Keywords: Cliometrics; economic history; persistence studies
    JEL: B40 N00
    Date: 2021–02
  7. By: Sergio Alessandro Castagnetti; Sebastiano Massaro; Eugenio Proto
    Abstract: We investigate the effect of anger on performance and strategic cooperative interactions. In a laboratory experiment, we induced anger in participants playing an indefinite repeated Prisoner's Dilemma game against each other, showing resulting declines in performance and individual profit. We assess the dynamics of strategic cooperative decisions and behaviors, revealing that anger-induced subjects used suboptimal strategies. We further describe the underpinning mechanism of automatic emotional regulation by analyzing participants' heart rate variability indexes. Finally, we extend our findings in an online experiment with an independent sample, increasing generalizability and helping explain how anger influences participants' ways of strategizing. Altogether, our contribution advances theoretical and practical implications regarding the impact of discrete emotions on strategic outcomes.
    Keywords: anger; behavioral strategy; heart rate variability; indefinite repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma; strategic cooperative interactions
    JEL: C7 C9 D9
    Date: 2021–04
  8. By: Heinrich, Torsten
    Abstract: How are economies in a modern age impacted by epidemics? In what ways is economic life disrupted? How can pandemics be modeled? What can be done to mitigate and manage the danger? Does the threat of pandemics increase or decrease in the modern world? The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of these questions and the potential of complex systems science to provide answers. This article offers a broad overview of the history of pandemics, of established facts, and of models of infection diffusion, mitigation strategies, and economic impact. The example of the Covid-19 pandemic is used to illustrate the theoretical aspects, but the article also includes considerations concerning other historic epidemics and the danger of more infectious and less controllable outbreaks in the future.
    Keywords: epidemics and economics; public health; complex systems; SIR models; Agent-based models; mean-field models; Covid-19
    JEL: C63 I10 N30
    Date: 2021–04–30
  9. By: Katerina Antonopoulou; Nicholas Dacre
    Abstract: In this paper we discuss the diffusion of serious games and present reasons for why Rogers traditional approach is limited in this context. We present an alternative overview through the characteristics of relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability, that reflect on the adoption decision and contributes on the commercialization of serious games.
    Date: 2021–05
  10. By: Toxvaerd, Flavio
    Abstract: This paper considers voluntary transmissive contacts between partially altruistic individuals in the presence of asymptomatic infection. Two different types of externalities from contacts are considered, infection externalities and socioeconomic externalities. When contacts are incidental, then externalities work through disease propagation. When contacts are essential, both infection and socioeconomic externalities are present. It is shown that for incidental contacts, equilibrium involves suboptimally high exposure whereas for essential contacts, equilibrium exposure is suboptimally low. An increase in altruism may thus increase or decrease disease transmission, depending on the type of contact under consideration. The analysis implies that policy to manage the epidemic should differentiate between different types of tranmissive activities.
    Keywords: altruism; disease control; Epidemics; infection externalities; socioeconomic externalities
    JEL: D83 I12
    Date: 2021–03
  11. By: Liza Charroin (Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne - Université Paris 1); Bernard Fortin (Laval University (Québec), CIRPEE, CIRANO and IZA (Bonn)); Marie Claire Villeval (Université de Lyon, CNRS, GATE and IZA (Bonn))
    Abstract: If individuals tend to behave like their peers, is it because of conformity, that is, the preference of people to align behavior with the behavior of their peers; homophily, that is, the tendency of people to bond with similar others; or both? We address this question in the context of an ethical dilemma. Using a peer effect model allowing for homophily, we designed a real-effort laboratory experiment in which individuals could misreport their performance to earn more. Our results reveal a preference for conformity and for homophily in the selection of peers, but only among participants who were cheating in isolation. The size of peer effects is similar when identical peers were randomly assigned and when they were selected by individuals. We thus jointly reject the presence of a self-selection bias in the peer effect estimates and of a link strength effect
    Keywords: Peer Effects; Homophily; Dishonesty; Self-Selection Bias; Experiment
    JEL: C92 D83 D85 D91
    Date: 2021–04
  12. By: Henn, Soeren; Robinson, James A
    Abstract: Despite the past centuries' economic setbacks and challenges, are there reasons for optimism about Africa's economic prospects? We provide a conceptual framework and empirical evidence that show how the nature of African society has led to three sets of unrecognized "latent assets." First, success in African society is talent driven and Africa has experienced high levels of perceived and actual social mobility. A society where talented individuals rise to the top and optimism prevails is an excellent basis for entrepreneurship and innovation. Second, Africans, like westerners who built the world's most successful effective states, are highly skeptical of authority and attuned to the abuse of power. We argue that these attitudes can be a critical basis for building better institutions. Third, Africa is "cosmopolitan." Africans are the most multilingual people in the world, have high levels of religious tolerance, and are welcoming to strangers. The experience of navigating cultural and linguistic diversity sets Africans up for success in a globalized world.
    Date: 2021–03
  13. By: Raphael Soubeyran (CEE-M - Centre d'Economie de l'Environnement - Montpellier - UMR 5211 - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Montpellier SupAgro - Institut national d’études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier - Institut Agro - Institut national d'enseignement supérieur pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes how pro-social motivations shape the relationship between incentives and inequality. I consider a principal who offers individual rewards to a group of agents to induce them to exert effort and to coordinate at least-cost. The agents value the payoffs of the other agents, and they are averse to inequality. My analysis highlights that pro-social motivations have an a priori ambiguous effect on inequality in the reward distribution. Despite this initial ambiguity, I show that the rewards are more unequal and lower when the agents have pro-social preferences. The model delivers empirical implications for intervention programs supporting the adoption of new health or agricultural technologies.
    Keywords: incentives,externality,principal,agents,coordination,pro-social preferences
    Date: 2021–04–30
  14. By: Booth, Alison L; Nolen, Patrick
    Abstract: Gender differences in paid performance under competition have been found in many laboratory-based experiments, and it has been suggested that these may arise because men and women respond differently to psychological pressure in competitive environments. To explore this further, we conducted a laboratory experiment comprising 444 subjects, and measured gender differences in performance in four distinct competitive situations. These were as follows: (i) the standard tournament game where the subject competes with three other individuals and the winner takes all; (ii) an anonymized competition in which an individual competes against an imposed production target and is paid only if s/he exceeds it; (iii) a 'personified' competition where an individual competes against a target based on the previous performance of one anonymised person of unknown gender; and (iv) a 'gendered' competition where an individual competes against a target based on the previous performance of one anonymised person whose gender is known. We found that only men respond to pressure differently in each situation; women responded the same to pressure no matter the situation. Moreover, the personified target caused men to increase performance more than under an anonymized target and, when the gender of the person associated with the target was revealed, men worked even harder to outperform a woman but strived only to equal the target set by a male.
    Keywords: psychological pressure, tournament, piece rate, gender, competitive behaviour; experiment; competitive behaviour; gender; piece rate; psychological pressure; randomized experiment; tournament
    JEL: C91 C92 J16 J33 M52
    Date: 2021–03
  15. By: Armand, Alex; Kim Taveras, Ivan
    Abstract: Evidence on the exact mechanism linking in utero shocks with early-childhood outcomes remains scarce because biological factors are often tangled with changes in parental inputs. This paper addresses this issue by exploiting exogenous variation in the ocean's productivity resulting from water acidification, a consequence of climate change that is negatively affecting marine life and has been largely ignored in the literature. Ocean acidification provides a unique setting to study prenatal nutritional deprivation as water chemistry affects fish stocks, but is not directly observed or felt by mothers. This isolates the channel of transmission to the availability of resources. We estimate the causal impact of the ocean's acidity while in utero on early-childhood mortality and development at a global scale, analyzing more than 1.5 million geocoded births taking place over the last 50 years in 36 developing countries. We compare children, including siblings, born in the same location but on different dates, controlling for a set of high-dimensional fixed effects. In coastal areas, a 0.01 unit increase in acidity causes 2 additional neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births. Using a novel measure of fishing pressure that combines local and industrial fishing, we show that the effect is strictly related to reduced access to nutrients during gestation. We find no evidence of parental adaptation on other inputs. Deprivation selectively affects the weakest children, creating small differences in child development. These results provide the first quantitative evidence linking the exploitation of renewable natural resources with malnutrition and neonatal selection.
    Keywords: Acidification; Child; climate change; Development; health; Mortality; nutrition; Ocean
    JEL: H51 I15 Q2 Q54
    Date: 2021–01

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