nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2021‒09‒13
three papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Competition in Transitional Processes: Polanyi and Schumpeter By Theresa Hager; Ines Heck; Johanna Rath
  2. A Tale of Two (and More) Altruists By B. De Bruyne; J. Randon-Furling; S. Redner
  3. Cognitive skills, strategic sophistication, and life outcomes By Eduardo Fe; David Gill; Victoria Prowse

  1. By: Theresa Hager (Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria); Ines Heck (University of Greenwich, Great Britain); Johanna Rath (Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria)
    Abstract: We examine parallels and differences in the analyses of societal transition by Karl Polanyi and Joseph A. Schumpeter. We argue that although their understanding of historical processes differs – transformational-political vs. evolutionary-natural – the central mechanism of change they describe is the same. We identify three spheres essential to both authors’ works: the economic, the political and the socio-cultural sphere. Polanyi and Schumpeter describe an expansion of the economic sphere culminating in a subordination of the other parts of society. In capitalism this dominance stems from capitalism’s emergence as well as the concept of competition. The consequence is a profound change in societal relations. Changes in the socio-cultural sphere in turn produce changes in the political sphere that bring about detrimental consequences for democracy. In our paper we carve out the similarities as well as the differences in the respective theories, clarify the role competition plays therein and discuss the consequences for the political process. We adopt an analytical framework that puts the nearly analogous mechanism of change in the centre. This in turn enables us to make use of the complementarity and to gain valuable insights on the interdependence of capitalism and democracy that can inform trends and phenomena that are currently observed.
    Date: 2021–09
  2. By: B. De Bruyne; J. Randon-Furling; S. Redner
    Abstract: We introduce a minimalist dynamical model of wealth evolution and wealth sharing among $N$ agents as a platform to compare the relative merits of altruism and individualism. In our model, the wealth of each agent independently evolves by diffusion. For a population of altruists, whenever any agent reaches zero wealth (that is, the agent goes bankrupt), the remaining wealth of the other $N-1$ agents is equally shared among all. The population is collectively defined to be bankrupt when its total wealth falls below a specified small threshold value. For individualists, each time an agent goes bankrupt (s)he is considered to be "dead" and no wealth redistribution occurs. We determine the evolution of wealth in these two societies. Altruism leads to more global median wealth at early times; eventually, however, the longest-lived individualists accumulate most of the wealth and are richer and more long lived than the altruists.
    Date: 2021–09
  3. By: Eduardo Fe; David Gill; Victoria Prowse
    Abstract: We investigate how childhood cognitive skills affect strategic sophistication and adult outcomes. In particular, we emphasize the importance of childhood theory-of-mind as a cognitive skill. We collected experimental data from more than seven hundred children in a variety of strategic interactions. First, we find that theory-of-mind ability and cognitive ability both predict level-k behavior. Second, older children respond to information about the cognitive ability of their opponent, which provides support for the emergence of a sophisticated strategic theory-of-mind. Third, theory-of-mind and age strongly predict whether children respond to intentions in a gift-exchange game, while cognitive ability has no influence, suggesting that different measures of cognitive skill correspond to different cognitive processes in strategic situations that involve understanding intentions. Using the ALSPAC birth-cohort study, we find that childhood theory-of-mind and cognitive ability are both associated with enhanced adult social skills, higher educational participation, better educational attainment, and lower fertility in young adulthood. Finally, we provide evidence that school spending improves theory-of-mind in childhood.
    Date: 2021

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