nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2021‒07‒12
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Borderline Disorder: (De facto) Historical Ethnic Borders and Contemporary Conflict in Africa By Emilio Depetris-Chauvin; Ömer Özak
  2. The Economic Incentives of Cultural Transmission: Spatial Evidence from Naming Patterns across France By Algan, Yann; Malgouyres, Clément; Mayer, Thierry; Thoenig, Mathias
  3. The Roots of Cooperation By Basic, Zvonimir; Bindra, Parampreet C.; Glätzle-Rützler, Daniela; Romano, Angelo; Sutter, Matthias; Zoller, Claudia
  4. Reconciling Normative and Behavioural Economics: The Problem that Cannot be Solved By Guilhem Lecouteux
  5. Law and Norms: Empirical Evidence By Tom Lane; Daniele Nosenzo; Silvia Sonderegger
  6. Knowledge That's Social By Chatterjee, Sidharta; Samanta, Mousumi
  7. Evolution of deterrence with costly reputation information By Ulrich Berger; Hannelore De Silva

  1. By: Emilio Depetris-Chauvin; Ömer Özak
    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.
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Algan, Yann (Sciences Po, Paris); Malgouyres, Clément (Paris School of Economics); Mayer, Thierry (Sciences Po, Paris); Thoenig, Mathias (University of Lausanne)
    Abstract: This paper studies how economic incentives influence cultural transmission, using a crucial expression of cultural identity: Child naming decisions. Our focus is on Arabic versus Non-Arabic names given in France over the 2003-2007 period. Our model of cultural transmission features three determinants: (i) vertical (parental) cultural transmission culture; (ii) horizontal (neighborhood) influence; (iii) information on the economic penalty associated with Arabic names. We find that economic incentives largely influence naming choices: Would the parental expectation on the economic penalty be zero, the annual number of babies born with an Arabic name would be more than 50 percent larger.
    Keywords: cultural economics, cultural transmission, first names, social interactions
    JEL: Z1 J3
    Date: 2021–06
  3. By: Basic, Zvonimir (University of Bonn); Bindra, Parampreet C. (University of Innsbruck); Glätzle-Rützler, Daniela (University of Innsbruck); Romano, Angelo (Leiden University); Sutter, Matthias (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods); Zoller, Claudia (Management Center Innsbruck)
    Abstract: Understanding the roots of human cooperation among strangers is of great importance for solving pressing social dilemmas and maintening public goods in human societies. We study the development of cooperation in 929 young children, aged 3 to 6. In a unified experimental framework, we examine which of three fundamental pillars of human cooperation – direct and indirect reciprocity as well as third-party punishment – emerges earliest as an effective means to increase cooperation in a repeated prisoner's dilemma game. We find that third-party punishment exhibits a strikingly positive effect on cooperation rates by doubling them in comparison to a control condition. It promotes cooperative behavior even before punishment of defectors is applied. Children also engage in reciprocating others, showing that reciprocity strategies are already prevalent at a very young age. However, direct and indirect reciprocity treatments do not increase overall cooperation rates, as young children fail to anticipate the benefits of reputation building. We also show that the cognitive skills of children and the socioeconomic background of parents play a vital role in the early development of human cooperation.
    Keywords: cooperation, reciprocity, third-party punishment, reputation, children, parents, cognitive abilities, socioeconomic status, prisoner's dilemma game, experiment
    JEL: C91 C93 D01 D91 H41
    Date: 2021–06
  4. By: Guilhem Lecouteux (Université Côte d'Azur; GREDEG CNRS)
    Abstract: Behavioural economics has challenged the normative consensus that agents ought to choose following their own preferences. I argue that normative economists implicitly defended a criterion of the sovereignty of the autonomous consumer, and that current debates in normative behavioural economics arise from disagreements about the nature of the threats to autonomy that are highlighted by behavioural economics. I argue that those disagreements result from diverging ontological conceptions of the ‘self’ in the literature. I distinguish between the unitary, psychodynamic, and socio-historical conceptions of the self, and show how different positive theories about preferences and the nature of the agent may determine normative positions in normative behavioural economics.
    Keywords: preference satisfaction, autonomy, welfare, reconciliation problem, sociohistorical self
    JEL: B40 D02 D60 D91
    Date: 2021–06
  5. By: Tom Lane (School of Economics, University of Nottingham Ningbo); Daniele Nosenzo (Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University); Silvia Sonderegger (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: A large theoretical literature argues laws exert a causal effect on norms, but empirical evidence remains scant. Using a novel identification strategy, this paper provides a clean empirical test of this proposition. We use incentivized vignette experiments to directly measure social norms relating to actions subject to legal thresholds. Our large-scale experiments featured around 5,800 subjects drawn from six samples recruited in the UK and China. Results show laws often, but not always, influence norms. Our findings are robust to different methods of measuring norms, and remain qualitatively similar across samples and between two countries with very different legislative environments.
    Keywords: Social Norms, Law, Expressive Function of Law
    JEL: C91 C92 D9 K1 K42
    Date: 2021–07–01
  6. By: Chatterjee, Sidharta; Samanta, Mousumi
    Abstract: In this research paper, we discuss the nature of social knowledge and how it can influence consumer sentiments by affecting their economic decisions to some extent. In fact, this is a brief study of social knowledge summarizing its evolutionary origin and phylogenesis in the modern context. We have designed a simplistic mathematical model for a theoretical understanding of our assumption that has practical implications regarding its utility in the society. We find social networks generate enough social information that can influence user choice and preferences. Our study has implications for both the users and the developers of social networking sites.
    Keywords: Social knowledge, social information, consumer choice, social networking, knowledge society.
    JEL: Z1 Z13
    Date: 2021–06–18
  7. By: Ulrich Berger (Department of Economics, Vienna University of Economics and Business); Hannelore De Silva (Institute for Finance, Banking and Insurance and Research Institute for Cryptoeconomics)
    Abstract: Deterrence, a defender’s avoidance of a challenger’s attack based on the threat of retaliation, is a basic ingredient of social cooperation in several animal species and is ubiquitous in human societies. Deterrence theory has recognized that deterrence can only be based on credible threats, but retaliating being costly for the defender rules this out in one-shot interactions. If interactions are repeated and observable, reputation building has been suggested as a way to sustain credibility and enable the evolution of deterrence. But this explanation ignores both the source and the costs of obtaining information on reputation. Even for small information costs successful deterrence is never evolutionarily stable. Here we use game-theoretic modelling and agent-based simulations to resolve this puzzle and to clarify under which conditions deterrence can nevertheless evolve and when it is bound to fail. Paradoxically, rich information on defenders’ past actions leads to a breakdown of deterrence, while with only minimal information deterrence can be highly successful. We argue that reputation-based deterrence sheds light on phenomena such as costly punishment and fairness, and might serve as a possible explanation for the evolution of informal property rights.
    Keywords: Deterrence, Reputation, Cooperation, Property rights, Costly punishment, Evolution
    JEL: C73
    Date: 2021–06

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