nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2022‒03‒07
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The technology adoption dilemma By Zazueta, Jorge
  2. Selfish learning is more important than fair-minded conditional cooperation in public-goods games By Burton-Chellew, Maxwell; Guérin, Claire
  3. Stable cooperation emerges in stochastic multiplicative growth By Lorenzo Fant; Onofrio Mazzarisi; Emanuele Panizon; Jacopo Grilli
  4. Historical Prevalence of Infectious Diseases and Entrepreneurship: the Role of Institutions in 125 Countries By Messono, Omang; Asongu, Simplice
  5. Historical Self-Governance and Norms of Cooperation By Devesh Rustagi
  6. The Origin and Evolution of Chinese Lineages By Noblit, Graham
  7. Agrarian Origins of Individualism and Collectivism By Martin Fiszbein; Yeonha Jung; Dietrich Vollrath

  1. By: Zazueta, Jorge
    Abstract: We develop a simple model of technology adoption based on evolutionary game theory that corresponds with intuition but also uncovers a non-ideal equilibrium that we call the technology adoption dilemma.
    Date: 2021–12–08
  2. By: Burton-Chellew, Maxwell; Guérin, Claire
    Abstract: Why does human cooperation often unravel in economic experiments despite a promising start? Previous studies have interpreted the decline as the reaction of disappointed cooperators retaliating in response to lesser cooperators (conditional cooperation). This interpretation has been considered evidence of a uniquely human form of cooperation, motivated by altruistic concerns for fairness and requiring special evolutionary explanations. However, experiments have typically shown individuals information about both their personal payoff and information about the decisions of their groupmates (social information). Showing both confounds explanations based on conditional cooperation with explanations based on individuals learning how to better play the game. Here we experimentally decouple these two forms of information, and thus these two learning processes, in public goods games involving 616 Swiss university participants. We find that payoff information leads to a greater decline, supporting a payoff-based learning hypothesis. In contrast, social information has small or negligible effect, contradicting the conditional cooperation hypothesis. We also find widespread evidence of both confusion and selfish motives, suggesting that human cooperation is maybe not so unique after all.
    Date: 2021–11–22
  3. By: Lorenzo Fant; Onofrio Mazzarisi; Emanuele Panizon; Jacopo Grilli
    Abstract: Understanding the evolutionary stability of cooperation is a central problem in biology, sociology, and economics. There exist only a few known mechanisms that guarantee the existence of cooperation and its robustness to cheating. Here, we introduce a new mechanism for the emergence of cooperation in the presence of fluctuations. We consider agents whose wealth change stochastically in a multiplicative fashion. Each agent can share part of her wealth as public good, which is equally distributed among all the agents. We show that, when agents operate with long time-horizons, cooperation produce an advantage at the individual level, as it effectively screens agents from the deleterious effect of environmental fluctuations.
    Date: 2022–02
  4. By: Messono, Omang; Asongu, Simplice
    Abstract: This study examines the effects of the historical prevalence of infectious diseases on contemporary entrepreneurship. Previous studies reveal the persistence of the effects of historical diseases on innovation, through the channel of culture. Drawing on the epidemiological origin of institutions, we propose a framework which argues that the impact of infectious disease prevalence on contemporary entrepreneurship is mediated by property rights. The central hypothesis posits that a guarantee of property rights reduces the effect of past diseases on entrepreneurship. Using data from 125 countries, we find strong and robust evidence on the proposed hypothesis and other results. Property rights are higher in countries where the prevalence of diseases was low, which leads to good entrepreneurship scores. In contrast, countries with high disease prevalence did not have time to develop strong institutions to secure property rights. This explains their low level of entrepreneurship today. These results are robust to alternative methods and measures of property rights. Furthermore, our results also confirm the level of development, culture and the digitalization of economies as transmission channels between past diseases and the current level of entrepreneurship.
    Keywords: entrepreneurship; institutions; diseases; property rights
    JEL: I0 I23 I31 J24
    Date: 2021–09
  5. By: Devesh Rustagi (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: Does self-governance, a hallmark of democratic societies, foster or erode norms of generalized cooperation? Does this effect persist, and if so, why? I investigate these questions using a natural experiment in Switzerland. In the middle-ages, the absence of an heir resulted in the extinction of a prominent noble dynasty. As a result, some Swiss municipalities became self-governing, whereas the others remained under feudalism for another 600 years. Evidence from a behavioral experiment, World Values Survey, and Swiss Household Panel consistently shows that individuals from historically self-governing municipalities exhibit stronger norms of cooperation today. Referenda data on voter-turnout, women’s suffrage, and minority citizenship, allow me to trace these effects on individually costly and socially beneficial actions for over 150 years. Furthermore, norms of cooperation map into prosocial behaviors like charitable giving and environmental protection. Uniquely, Switzerland tracks every family’s place of origin in registration data, which I use to demonstrate persistence from cultural transmission in a context of historically low migration.
    Keywords: Self-governance, norms of cooperation, cultural transmission, referendum, public goods game, Switzerland
    Date: 2022–04
  6. By: Noblit, Graham
    Abstract: I aim to understand variation in an important and historically novel socio-political institution, the Chinese lineage. There is extensive geographic variation in the historical prominence and relevance of lineages. Using ethnographic and historical-economic evidence, I construct a theory explaining lineages as risk-pooling institutions, which provide lineage members with access to land. More so, variation in regional demand for risk-pooling and/or access to land likely stems from well-studied rice-wheat agroeconomic differences. I test this hypothesis by examining whether lineage activity is associated with landholding size, precipitation predictability, and historically documented precipitation disasters and find support for my hypothesis.
    Date: 2021–12–22
  7. By: Martin Fiszbein; Yeonha Jung; Dietrich Vollrath
    Abstract: We study the influence of agricultural labor intensity on individualism across U.S. counties. To measure historical labor intensity in agriculture we combine data on crop-specific labor requirements and county-specific crop mix around 1900. To address endogeneity we exploit climate-induced variation in crop mix. Our estimates indicate that an increase of one standard deviation in labor intensity is associated with a reduction of 0.2-0.4 standard deviations in individualism (as captured by the share of children with infrequent names). We further document consistent patterns using within-county changes in labor intensity over time due to both mechanization and the boll weevil shock. While culture transformed in response to changes in labor intensity, we also find that historical agricultural patterns had a lasting imprint that influences geographic variation in individualism today.
    JEL: N51 O13 P16
    Date: 2022–01

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