nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2021‒07‒26
six papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Aestheticism in the Theory of Custom By Schlicht, Ekkehart
  2. Behavioral Mistakes Support Cooperation in an N-Person Repeated Public Goods Game By Jung-Kyoo Choi; Jun Sok Huhh
  3. Human capital transfer of German-speaking migrants in Eastern Europe, 1780s-1820s By Blum, Matthias; Krauss, Karl-Peter; Myeshkov, Dmytro
  4. Grounded in Methodology, Certified by Journals: The Rise and Evolution of a Mainstream in Economics By Michel De Vroey; Luca Pensieroso
  5. An Experimental Study of Within- and Cross-cultural Cooperation: Chinese and American Play in the Prisoner’s Dilemma Game By Michael Kuroda; Jieran Li; Jason Shachat; Lijia Wei; Bochen Zhu
  6. The Role of Cliometrics in History and Economics. By Claude Diebolt; Michael Haupert

  1. By: Schlicht, Ekkehart
    Abstract: The nature of learning processes as well as evolutionary considerations suggest that aesthetic judgement is of central importance in the formation of custom. Learning and extrapolation rely on evaluations of non-instrumental features like simplicity, analogy, straightforwardness, and clarity. Further, learning is particularly effective if it is driven by an active desire to uncover new regularities, rather than merely gathering information in a passive way.From an evolutionary perspective, learning has evolved as an adaptation to fast and transitory environmental changes which cannot be effectively traced by the slow and long-term evolutionary processes which take place on the genetic level. The evolutionary raison d'être of learning is to enable the individual to incessantly search for upcoming new regularities, and to act appropriately on them. As learning depends on aesthetic judgement, the evolutionary selection for learning implies an evolutionary molding of an aesthetic sense, and a preference for patterns and patterned action which ultimately leads to the formation of custom and social learning. The paper presents, thus, an evolutionary underpinning for the behavioral tendencies underlying my theory of custom.
    Keywords: Institutional economics; evolution; evodevo; evo-devo; aesthetics; variation; selection; institutional economics; social psychology; rule-learning;
    JEL: B15 B25 B52 D02 D23 E14
    Date: 2021
  2. By: Jung-Kyoo Choi; Jun Sok Huhh
    Abstract: This study investigates the effect of behavioral mistakes on the evolutionary stability of the cooperative equilibrium in a repeated public goods game. Many studies show that behavioral mistakes have detrimental effects on cooperation because they reduce the expected length of mutual cooperation by triggering the conditional retaliation of the cooperators. However, this study shows that behavioral mistakes could have positive effects. Conditional cooperative strategies are either neutrally stable or are unstable in a mistake-free environment, but we show that behavioral mistakes can make \textit{all} of the conditional cooperative strategies evolutionarily stable. We show that behavioral mistakes stabilize the cooperative equilibrium based on the most intolerant cooperative strategy by eliminating the behavioral indistinguishability between conditional cooperators in the cooperative equilibrium. We also show that mistakes make the tolerant conditional cooperative strategies evolutionarily stable by preventing the defectors from accumulating the free-rider's advantages. Lastly, we show that the behavioral mistakes could serve as a criterion for the equilibrium selection among cooperative equilibria.
    Date: 2021–06
  3. By: Blum, Matthias; Krauss, Karl-Peter; Myeshkov, Dmytro
    Abstract: Prior to the Age of Mass Migration, Germans left central Europe to settle primarily in modernday Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine and Russia. Despite the harsh conditions that the first generation of settlers had to endure, their descendants often fared better, not worse, compared to native population groups. This study offers a possible explanation for this surprising outcome. We use data on approximately 11,500 individuals to estimate and compare basic numeracy scores of German settlers and other populations groups in target regions. We find that German settlers generally had superior basic numeracy levels, suggesting that these settlers must have contributed positively to the human capital endowment in their target regions. The numeracy of Germans was somewhat higher than the numeracy of Hungarians and substantially higher than the numeracy of Russians, Ukrainians and Serbs. We do not find noteworthy differences in terms of numeracy between German emigrants and the population they left behind, suggesting the absence of substantial migrant selection.
    Keywords: Migration,Economic History,Germany,Hungary,Russian Empire,Ukraine,Eastern Europe
    JEL: N13 N23
    Date: 2021
  4. By: Michel De Vroey (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES)); Luca Pensieroso (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES))
    Abstract: In this paper, we introduce a new understanding of the mainstream notion in economics. Its distinct character is based on a set of methodological standards deemed compulsory in the theoretical or empirical practice of the discipline. We contend that a theoretical mainstream arose around the 1980s, when the prevailing methodological standards in microeconomics and game theory – mathematical language, equilibrium discipline, and ‘explicit micro-foundations’ – came to be adopted in theoretical papers across a wide range of fields and specializations. We further argue that the 1990 period witnessed the surge of a distinct empirical mainstream and the emergence of a joint mainstream, the result of the rise of experimental economics and a renewal of applied economics centered on the notion of causal inference. An examination of the contents of the articles published in top journals in selected years from 1970 to 2018 confirms our contention.
    Keywords: Mainstream, Neoclassical approach, Experimental economics, Causal inference, Methodology
    JEL: A10 B20 B41 C9
    Date: 2021–07–06
  5. By: Michael Kuroda (Economic Science Institute, Chapman University); Jieran Li (Economic Science Institute, Chapman University); Jason Shachat (Durham University and Wuhan University); Lijia Wei (Wuhan University); Bochen Zhu (Wuhan University)
    Abstract: We study whether cross- and within-culture groups have different cooperation rates in the Prisoner’s Dilemma Game. In an experiment, university students in China and America engage in a single iteration of the game, complete belief elicitation tasks regarding their opponents’ play and take a survey including attitudinal measurements regarding their in- and out-group attitudes. Cooperation rates are higher across the two countries are higher in both cross-culture and in within-culture interactions, although not significantly. We also find that Chinese participants cooperate less than American ones. Further, female Chinese participants are more cooperative than Chinese male ones. In the cross-culture treatment, Chinese participants underestimate the likelihood of cooperative behavior of their American counterparts, while Americans overestimate the same likelihood of their Chinese counterparts. Our results also show that Chinese participants cooperate more conditionally than American ones. Finally, while we find some attitudinal in- and out-biases both they do not generate meaningful impact on cooperative behavior.
    Keywords: Cross-culture; Prisoner’s Dilemma; Cooperation; Experiment
    JEL: C72 C92 D91
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Claude Diebolt; Michael Haupert
    Abstract: How did cliometrics in particular, and economic history in general, arrive at this crossroads, where it is at once considered to be a dying discipline and one that is spreading through the economics discipline as a whole? To understand the current status and future prospects of economic history, it is necessary to understand its past.
    Keywords: Cliometrics, economic history, Robert Fogel, Douglass North, economic growth, econometrics, interdisciplinary economic history, new economic history, multidisciplinary, methodology, quantitative.
    JEL: A12 N00 N01
    Date: 2021

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