nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2022‒02‒21
five papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Tit for Tat: Cooperation, communication, and how each could stabilize the other By Victor Vikram Odouard; Michael Holton Price
  2. Settlers and Norms By Joanne Haddad
  3. From Neolithic Revolution to Industrialization By Chu, Angus C.
  4. Elements of an evolutionary approach to comparative economic studies: complexity, systemism, and path dependent development By Claudius Graebner-Radkowitsch
  5. An Economic Approach to Religious Communes: The Shakers By Metin M. Cosgel

  1. By: Victor Vikram Odouard; Michael Holton Price
    Abstract: Explanations for altruism, such as kin selection, reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, punishment, and genetic and cultural group selection, typically involve mechanisms that make altruists more likely to benefit from the altruism of others. Often, some form of signaling enables these mechanisms. Physical cues, for instance, help individuals recognize family members (kin selection) and others who have cooperated with them in the past (reciprocity). In the case of indirect reciprocity, where individuals cooperate with high-reputation individuals, signals help disseminate reputation information. But most accounts of indirect reciprocity take as given a truthful and misunderstanding-free communication system. In this paper, we seek to explain how such a communication system could remain evolutionarily stable in the absence of exogenous pressures. Specifically, we present three conditions that together allow signaling and cooperation to interact in a way that maintains both the effectiveness of the signal and the prevalence of cooperation. The conditions are that individuals (1) can signal about who is truthful, requiring a vital conceptual slippage between cooperation/defection and truthfulness/deceit, (2) make occasional mistakes, demonstrating how error can create stability by expressing unexpressed genes, and (3) use a "stern judging" norm that rewards defection against defectors, confirming that the norms encoded by a communication system determine its stability.
    Date: 2022–01
  2. By: Joanne Haddad
    Abstract: The distinctive traits of early settlers at initial stages of institutional development may be crucial for cultural formation. In 1973, the cultural geographer Wilbur Zelinsky postulated this in his doctrine of “first effective settlement”. There is however little empirical evidence supporting the role of early settlers in shaping culture over the long run. This paper tests this hypothesis by relating early settlers’ culture to within state variation in gender norms in the United States. I capture settlers’ culture using past female labor force participation, women’s suffrage, and financial rights at their place of origin. I document the distinctive characteristics of settlers’ populations and provide suggestive evidence in support of the transmission of gender norms across space and time. My results show that women’s labor supply is higher, in both the short and long run, in U.S. counties that historically hosted a larger settler population originating from places with favorable gender attitudes. My findings shed new light on the importance of the characteristics of immigrants and their place of origin for cultural formation in hosting societies.
    Keywords: female labor force participation, settlers, gender norms, cultural formation
    Date: 2022–01
  3. By: Chu, Angus C.
    Abstract: This study develops a simple economic model for the evolution of the human society from hunting-gathering to agriculture and then an industrial economy. The human society evolves across these three stages as population grows. However, under endogenous population growth, the population may stop growing and never reach the next threshold. If it fails to reach the first threshold, then the population remains as hunter-gatherers. If it reaches the first threshold, then an agricultural society emerges. The Neolithic Revolution occurs under a low fertility cost, strong fertility preference, high agricultural productivity, and high labor supply. Then, if the population fails to reach the next threshold, the economy remains in an agricultural Malthusian trap and does not experience industrialization. Industrialization occurs under a low fertility cost, strong fertility preference, high agricultural productivity, high labor supply, a large amount of agricultural land, high industrial productivity, and a low fixed cost of industrial production.
    Keywords: Neolithic Revolution; industrialization; endogenous population growth
    JEL: J11 O13 O14
    Date: 2022–02
  4. By: Claudius Graebner-Radkowitsch (Institute for Socio-Economics, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany; Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria; ZOE Institute for future-fit Economies, Bonn, Germany; International lnstitute of Management and Economic Education, Europa-Universitaet Flennsburg, Germany)
    Abstract: This chapter delineates an evolutionary approach to the comparative analysis of economic systems and illustrates its usefulness via an exemplary application to recent developments in the European Union. The first part of the chapter describes the meta-theoretical foundations of the approach, i.e. its particular ontological and epistemological vantage points. This allows for an easier comparison (and, potentially, triangulation) with other approaches to comparative analyses, and already provides for some practical guidelines for applied work. The second part applies the approach and studies polarization patterns in the European Union. While this application is not meant as a fully self-contained analysis, it not only illustrates how the concepts of the approach can be operationalized and applied in practice, but also the application of several empirical methods that can be used fruitfully within such an evolutionary analysis. The chapter concludes with a non-exhaustive list of concepts and topics that are particularly insightful to consider when conducting an analysis in the spirit of an evolutionary approach to the comparative analysis of economic systems.
    Date: 2022–01
  5. By: Metin M. Cosgel (University of Connecticut)
    Abstract: The Shakers were a religious society well known for their commitments to celibacy, joint ownership of property, and communal lifestyle. An economic approach to religious communes, originally developed by John E. Murray, proposes that Shaker membership and prospective entrants responded to the incentives created by the difference between Shaker and worldly living standards. Membership decisions within Shaker communal societies were influenced by both religious belief and economic incentives; despite communalism, Shaker farms and shops generally performed just as productively as their neighbors; the organization of Shaker communes under the Family system was a compromise that balanced communal ideals with the costs of motivation and coordination; Shakers' dairy operations were just as productive as nearby family farms or larger commercial operations; and eastern and western Shakers farmed in ways that were more similar to their neighbors than to each other. This essay will examine the living standards and membership selection in Shaker societies and the organization and market integration of their businesses, with the dual objective of outlining the basic elements of an economic approach to the Shakers and discussing Murray’s contributions to the literature.
    Keywords: Shakers, religious commune, living standards, incentives, membership, productivity
    JEL: B30 H30 I10 J10 J32 L20 M54 N31 P32 Z12
    Date: 2022–01

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