nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2021‒10‒04
four papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. How Do We Choose? Towards an Alternative Theory of Consumer Behavior By Kyle Glenn
  2. Automation and labor market polarization in an evolutionary model with heterogeneous workers By Florent Bordot; Andre Lorentz
  3. Narratives in economics By Roos, Michael W. M.; Reccius, Matthias
  4. Women’s work and wages in the sixteenth-century and Sweden’s position in the “Little divergence” By Molinder, Jakob; Pihl, Christopher

  1. By: Kyle Glenn (Department of Economics, Adams State University)
    Abstract: In this paper we explore how economists have addressed consumer behavior. We begin by analyzing the fundamental underpinning of neoclassical consumer behavior, utility maximization. We show how the contributions of behavioral economics, which prides itself on finding moments of nonconformity within the theory of consumer behavior, has put into question the validity of mainstream consumer choice modeling Accepting that the orthodox theory provides a poor model, the question remains: What alternative theories of consumer behavior exist? We discuss two alternative frameworks for consumer behavior: the endogenous preferences literature and the post-Keynesian notion of consumer choice. While both frameworks have provided valuable insights into consumer behavior, we argue that neither theory fully captures the complexities of consumer behavior. As such, we turn to literature in Business and Psychology surrounding how consumers actually behave. We find three common principles in the literature: consumer cannot process all information, preferences are malleable, and preferences are categorized eliciting varied behaviors dependent upon the category. We posit a basic neural network model that captures the three principles and illuminates some of the complexities of consumer behavior.
    Keywords: Consumer behavior, network models
    JEL: B50 D11 D90
    Date: 2021–09
  2. By: Florent Bordot; Andre Lorentz
    Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the mechanisms underlying the relationship between automation and labor market polarization. To do so, we build an agent-based model (ABM) in which workers, heterogeneous in nature and level of skills, interact endogenously on a decentralized labor market with firms producing goods requiring specific set of skills to realize the tasks necessary for the production process. The two scenarios considered, with and without automation, confirm that automation is indeed a key factor in polarizing the structure of skill demand and increasing wage inequality. This result emerges even without reverting to the routine-based technical change (RBTC) hypothesis usually found in the literature, giving some support to the complexity-based technical change (CBTC) hypothesis. Finally, we also highlight that the impact of automation on the distribution of skill demand and wage inequality is correlated with the velocity of technical change.
    Keywords: Automation; Wage Polarization; Technical Change; Employment; Agent-Based Model.
    Date: 2021–09–23
  3. By: Roos, Michael W. M.; Reccius, Matthias
    Abstract: There is growing awareness within the economics profession of the important role narratives play in the economy. Even though empirical approaches that try to quantify economic narratives are getting increasingly popular, there is no theory or even a universally accepted definition of economic arratives underlying this research. First, we review and categorize the economic literature concerned with narratives and work out the different paradigms that are at play. Only a subset of the literature considers narratives to be active drivers of economic activity. In order to solidify the foundation of narrative economics, we propose a definition of collective economic narratives, isolating five important characteristics. We argue that, for a narrative to be economically relevant, it must be a sense-making story that emerges in a social context and suggests action to a social group. We also systematize how a collective economic narrative differs from a topic and from other kinds of narratives that are likely to have less impact on the economy. With regard to the popular use of topic modeling as an empirical strategy, we suggest that the complementary use of other canonical methods from the natural language processing toolkit and the development of new methods is inevitable to go beyond identifying topics and be able to move towards true empirical narrative economics.
    Keywords: Narrative economics,complexity economics,narrative turn,textual analysis,NLP
    JEL: D91 E44 E71 B55 B41
    Date: 2021
  4. By: Molinder, Jakob (Department of Economic History, Uppsala University); Pihl, Christopher (Department of History, Uppsala University)
    Abstract: We use a unique source from the Swedish royal demesnes to examine the work and relative wages of women in sixteenth century Sweden, an economic laggard in the Early Modern period. The source pertains to workers hired on yearly contracts, a type more representative for historical labour markets than day-labour on large construction sites, and allows us to observe directly the food consumed by workers. We speak to the debate on the “Little Divergence” within Europe as women’s work and gender differentials in pay is a key indicator of women’s relative autonomy and seen as a cause for the economic ascendency of the North Sea region during the period. We find small gender differentials among both unskilled and skilled workers, indicating that Sweden was a part of the “golden age” for women. We argue that despite superficial equality, women’s economic outlooks were restrained in many other ways – including their access to higher skilled work and jobs in the expanding parts of the economy – adding important nuance to the discussion about the relationship between women’s social position and economic growth in the Early Modern period.
    Keywords: womens work; wages; little divergence; Sweden; gender gap; Early Modern period
    JEL: J21 J31 N00 N33
    Date: 2021–09–14

This nep-evo issue is ©2021 by Matthew Baker. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.