nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2021‒08‒23
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Rules, Preferences and Evolution from the Family Angle By Cigno, Alessandro
  2. Sophistication about Self-Control By Cobb-Clark, Deborah A.; Dahmann, Sarah C.; Kamhöfer, Daniel A.; Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah
  3. Variety, Fertility, and Long-term Economic Growth By Jianchoun Dou
  4. A Pomeranzian Growth Theory of the Great Divergence By Shuhei Aoki
  5. We Do Not Know the Population of Every Country in the World for the past Two Thousand Years By Timothy Guinnane
  6. Quasi-Hyperbolic Present Bias: A Meta-Analysis By Cheung, Stephen L.; Tymula, Agnieszka; Wang, Xueting
  7. Factors Influencing the Development of Trust By Nazli Mohammad

  1. By: Cigno, Alessandro (University of Florence)
    Abstract: This paper reviews the literature concerning the evolution of cultural traits in general and preferences in particular, and the emergence and persistence of rules or norms, from a family perspective. In models where every new person is effectively the clone of an existing one (either a parent or anyone else), there may be evolution only in the demographic sense that the share of the population who hold a certain trait increases or decreases. Evolution in the strict sense of new traits making their appearance occurs in models where the trait characterizing any given member of any given generation is a combination of traits drawn at random from those represented in the previous generation. Preferences may be altruistic or non-altruistic, but individuals may behave as if they were altruistic even if they are not, because a rule or norm may make it in their interest to do so. Evolutionary stability and renegotiation proofness play analogous roles, the former by selecting altruistic preferences, and the latter by selecting cooperation-inducing rules. The existence of population groups recognizable by outward characteristics like ethnicity or religious practice may convey useful information regarding imperfectly observable traits, such as preferences, of direct interest to individuals, but it may also lead individuals to judge others by their group membership rather than by their unobservable individual qualities, and thus to see them as possible foes.
    Keywords: evolution, preferences, rules, socialization, matching, hold-up problem
    JEL: Z1 C78 D01 D02 D13 J13
    Date: 2021–07
  2. By: Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. (University of Sydney); Dahmann, Sarah C. (University of Melbourne); Kamhöfer, Daniel A. (Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE)); Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
    Abstract: We propose a broadly applicable empirical approach to classify individuals as time-consistent versus naïve or sophisticated regarding their self-control limitations. Operationalizing our approach based on nationally representative data reveals that self-control problems are pervasive and that most people are at least partly aware of their limited self-control. Compared to naïfs, sophisticates have higher IQs, better educated parents, and are more likely to take up commitment devices. Accounting for both the level and awareness of self-control limitations has predictive power beyond one-dimensional notions of self-control that neglect awareness. Importantly, sophistication fully compensates for self-control problems when choices involve immediate costs and later benefits. Raising people's awareness of their own self-control limitations may thus assist them in overcoming any adverse consequences.
    Keywords: self-control, sophistication, naïveté, commitment devices, present bias
    JEL: D91 D01
    Date: 2021–07
  3. By: Jianchoun Dou (Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an, China)
    Abstract: This study develops a novel mechanism to explain the long-term economic and demographic evolution from the Malthusian stage to the modern stage. In the model, the progress in human history is characterized by not only technological advances but also the expansion of variety of goods. The technological progress, which enhances productivity, is in favor of population growth. Meanwhile, the growth of variety that expands consumption sets tends to reduce fertility. The change of fertility finally depends on the relative growth rate of these two kinds of innovations. With the help of some hypotheses that correspond to the stylized facts in the history of science and technology, the model predicts an evolutional pattern of technology and fertility that is consistent with unified growth theory.
    Keywords: Variety, Fertility, Economic growth, Innovations
    JEL: J11 J13 N3
    Date: 2021–07–18
  4. By: Shuhei Aoki
    Abstract: In this paper, I construct a growth model of the Great Divergence, which formalizes Pomeranz's (2000) hypothesis that the relief of land constraints in Europe caused divergence in economic growth between Europe and China since the 19th century. The model has agricultural and manufacturing sectors. The agricultural sector produces subsistence goods from land, intermediate goods made in the manufacturing sector, and labor. The manufacturing sector produces the goods from labor, and its productivity grows through learning-by-doing. Households make fertility decisions. In the model, a large exogenous positive shock in land supply makes the transition of the economy from the Malthusian state, in which all workers are engaged in agricultural production and per capita income is constant, to the non-Malthusian state, in which the share of workers engaging in manufacturing production gradually increases and per capita income grows at a roughly constant growth rate. The quantitative predictions of the model provide several insights on the cause of the Great Divergence.
    Date: 2021–08
  5. By: Timothy Guinnane
    Abstract: Economists have reported econometric results that rely on estimates of the population of every country in the world for the past two thousand or more years. The underlying source is usually McEvedy and Jones’ Atlas of World Population History, published in 1978. The McEvedy and Jones data have important weaknesses. The reported populations for years before 1500 are, for most countries, little more than guesses, as are many estimates for more recent times. Research relying on McEvedy and Jones cannot take advantage of improved estimates reported since 1978. McEvedy and Jones often infer population sizes from their view of a particular economy, making their estimates poor proxies for economic growth. Although some economists treat the African data as pertaining to modern nation-states, in most cases it is not. With a few welcome exceptions, economists using this source do not take the measurement error issues seriously. Results that rest on McEvedy and Jones are unreliable. The willingness to rely on such data discourages effort to provide serious improvements.
    Keywords: long-run growth, historical populations, measurement error, McEvedy and Jones
    JEL: N00 N10 O40 O47 J10 C18
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Cheung, Stephen L. (University of Sydney); Tymula, Agnieszka (University of Sydney); Wang, Xueting (University of Sydney)
    Abstract: Quasi-hyperbolic discounting is one of the most well-known and widely-used models to capture self-control problems in the economics literature. The underlying assumption of this model is that agents have a "present bias" toward current consumption such that all future rewards are downweighed relative to rewards in the present (in addition to standard exponential discounting for the length of delay). We report a meta-analytic dataset of estimates of the present bias parameter β based on searches of all major research databases (62 papers with 81 estimates in total). We find that the literature shows that people are on average present biased for both monetary rewards (β = 0.82, 95% confidence interval of [0.74, 0.90]) and nonmonetary rewards (β = 0.66, 95% confidence interval of [0.51, 0.85]) but that substantial heterogeneity exists across studies. The source of this heterogeneity comes from the subject pool, elicitation methodology, geographical location, payment method, mode of data collection (e.g. laboratory or field), and reward type. There is evidence of selective reporting and publication bias in the direction of overestimating the strength of present-bias (making β estimates smaller), but present bias still exists after correcting for these issues (for money β = 0.87 with 95% confidence interval of [0.82, 0.92] after correcting for selective reporting).
    Keywords: quasi-hyperbolic discounting, present bias, beta-delta model, meta-analysis
    JEL: C91 D12 D80 D91
    Date: 2021–07
  7. By: Nazli Mohammad (University of Nevada [Reno])
    Abstract: This research addresses cultural factors that may have a direct effect on the level of trust in society. Specific questions to be addressed are: What is trust? What are factors influencing the development of trust? Research Goal Understanding relationship between individual values, big five personalities, social isolation, and anomie with trust. The purpose is to illuminate the key role of trust in critical social processes. Methods
    Date: 2021–08–04

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