nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2022‒04‒18
eight papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Expanding the Measurement of Culture with a Sample of Two Billion Humans By Obradovich, Nick; Özak, Ömer; Martín, Ignacio; Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio; Awad, Edmond; Cebrián, Manuel; Cuevas, Rubén; Desmet, Klaus; Rahwan, Iyad; Cuevas, Ángel
  2. The Shadow of the Neolithic Revolution on Life Expectancy: A Double-Edged Sword By Franck, Raphael; Galor, Oded; Moav, Omer; Özak, Ömer
  3. Historical Prevalence of Infectious Diseases and Entrepreneurship: the Role of Institutions in 125 Countries By Omang O. Messono; Simplice A. Asongu
  4. Statistical Inference in Evolutionary Dynamics By Ryoji Sawa
  5. The Pull of the Plateau and the Sway of the Mode: Formal Relationships to Estimate the Pace of Senescence By Vaupel, James W.
  6. Technology of Cultural Transmission I: The Printing Press By David Hugh-Jones; Mich Tvede
  7. Behavioral and heuristic models are as-if models too — and that’s ok By Ivan Moscati
  8. The intergenerational transmission of cognitive skills: An investigation of the causal impact of families on student outcomes By Hanushek, Eric Alan; Jacobs, Babs; Schwerdt, Guido; van der Velden, Rolf; Vermeulen, Stan; Wiederhold, Simon

  1. By: Obradovich, Nick; Özak, Ömer; Martín, Ignacio; Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio; Awad, Edmond; Cebrián, Manuel; Cuevas, Rubén; Desmet, Klaus; Rahwan, Iyad; Cuevas, Ángel
    Abstract: Culture has played a pivotal role in human evolution. Yet, the ability of social scientists to study culture is limited by the currently available measurement instruments. Scholars of culture must regularly choose between scalable but sparse survey-based methods or restricted but rich ethnographic methods. Here, we demonstrate that massive online social networks can advance the study of human culture by providing quantitative, scalable, and high-resolution measurement of behaviorally revealed cultural values and preferences. We employ publicly available data across nearly 60,000 topic dimensions drawn from two billion Facebook users across 225 countries and territories. We first validate that cultural distances calculated from this measurement instrument correspond to traditional survey-based and objective measures of cross-national cultural differences. We then demonstrate that this expanded measure enables rich insight into the cultural landscape globally at previously impossible resolution. We analyze the importance of national borders in shaping culture and compare subnational divisiveness to gender divisiveness across countries. The global collection of massive data on human behavior provides a high-dimensional complement to traditional cultural metrics. Further, the granularity of the measure presents enormous promise to advance scholars' understanding of additional fundamental questions in the social sciences. The measure enables detailed investigation into the geopolitical stability of countries, social cleavages within both small and large-scale human groups, the integration of migrant populations, and the disaffection of certain population groups from the political process, among myriad other potential future applications.
    Keywords: Culture,Cultural Distance,Identity,Regional Culture,Gender Differences
    JEL: C80 F1 J1 O10 R10 Z10
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Franck, Raphael; Galor, Oded; Moav, Omer; Özak, Ömer (Southern Methodist University)
    Abstract: This research explores the persistent effect of the Neolithic Revolution on the evolution of life expectancy in the course of human history. It advances the hypothesis and establishes empirically that the onset of the Neolithic Revolution and the associated rise in infectious diseases triggered a process of adaptation reducing mortality from infectious diseases while increasing the propensity for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Exploiting an exogenous source of variation in the timing of the Neolithic Revolution across French regions, the analysis establishes the presence of these conflicting forces - the beneficial effects on life expectancy before the second epidemiological transition and their adverse effects thereafter.
    Date: 2022–03–01
  3. By: Omang O. Messono (University of Douala, Douala, Cameroon); Simplice A. Asongu (Yaoundé, Cameroon)
    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 J24 I21 I31
    Date: 2021–09
  4. By: Ryoji Sawa
    Abstract: We introduce evolutionary dynamics for two-action games where agents with diverse preferences use statistical inference to guide their behavior. We show that the dynamic converges to a Bayesian sampling equilibrium with statistical inference (SESI) and the set of Bayesian SESIs is globally asymptotically stable. We discuss the global convergence to a unique Bayesian SESI in anti-coordination games, a welfare-improving tax scheme, equilibrium selection in coordination games, an application to the diffusion of behavior on networks, and the extension of heterogeneity to the inference procedures.
    Date: 2022–03
  5. By: Vaupel, James W. (University of Southern Denmark)
    Abstract: BACKGROUND How rapidly does the risk of death due to old age rise with age? It has been hypothesized that this pace of senescence is constant over age, time, and place for every human, today and in the past. Attempts to empirically test this superficially preposterous theory have not been successful—the theory has not yet been proven or disproven. OBJECTIVE Take advantage of theory about heterogeneous populations, and in particular the gamma-Gompertz model, and the knowledge that death rates approach a plateau to develop formal relationships that can be used to estimate the pace of senescence, i.e., the rate of mortality increase with age for individuals because of deterioration with age, and also to estimate how disparate the risk of senescent death is for individuals of the same age. RESULTS Proofs are given for new formal relationships that depend on the level of the mortality plateau, the modal age of death or both. These equations hinge on—and might be useful in testing—the hypothesis that senescent mortality can be described by a gamma-Gompertz model. CONTRIBUTION Discovering that there is (1) an invariant pace of senescence for individuals and (2) an invariant distribution of relative risk of senescent death across individuals—for all humans (and perhaps for some other species)—would be of fundamental physiological, evolutionary, and demographic significance. The formal relationships presented here may further empirical research to find such physiological invariants—or to disprove their existence.
    Date: 2022–03–02
  6. By: David Hugh-Jones (School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich); Mich Tvede (School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich)
    Abstract: Existing theories of the effects of the printing press treat it as speeding up the transmission of technical knowledge. This cannot explain why a large proportion of both manuscripts and early printed books was religious. We argue that books transmit prudential and moral rules as well as technical information. These culturally transmitted rules provide a foundation for economic rationality, and solve problems of trust in large markets. In Europe, cheaper book production stimulated not only scientific progress, but also new forms of religion, which used book reading to inculcate rules appropriate to the emerging modern economy. We model the effect of the printing press on economic growth. Initially religious works dominate, but as the stock of technical knowledge grows, the proportion of technical works increases.
    Date: 2022–04–07
  7. By: Ivan Moscati
    Abstract: I examine some behavioral and heuristic-based models of individual decision making, and argue that the diverse psychological mechanisms these models posit are cognitively too demanding to be implemented, consciously or unconsciously, by actual decision makers. Accordingly, and contrary to what their advocates typically claim, behavioral and heuristic models are best understood as “as-if models†that account for the observable choices that individuals make, but do not pretend to capture the actual psychological mechanisms that generate those choices. In this respect, behavioral and heuristic models are just like neoclassical models, whose as-if status is generally acknowledged. I then sketch a local version of scientific antirealism that justifies the practice of as-if modelling in the theory of decision making. The antirealism on offer emphasizes the role that mechanistic explanations play in decision analysis, and therefore goes beyond traditional instrumentalism.
    Keywords: Decision theory; Expected Utility theory; Cumulative Prospect Theory; Priority Heuristic model; Scientific antirealism; Mechanistic explanation
    Date: 2022
  8. By: Hanushek, Eric Alan; Jacobs, Babs; Schwerdt, Guido; van der Velden, Rolf; Vermeulen, Stan; Wiederhold, Simon
    Abstract: The extensive literature on intergenerational mobility highlights the importance of family linkages but fails to provide credible evidence about the underlying family factors that drive the pervasive correlations. We employ a unique combination of Dutch survey and registry data that links math and language skills across generations. We identify the connection between cognitive skills of parents and their children by exploiting within-family between-subject variation in these skills. A causal interpretation of the between-subject estimates is reinforced by novel IV estimation that isolates variation in parent cognitive skills due to teacher and classroom peer quality. The between-subject and IV estimates of the key intergenerational persistence parameter are strikingly similar and close at about 0.1. Finally, we show the strong influence of family skill transmission on children's choices of STEM fields.
    Keywords: intergenerational mobility,parent-child skill transmission,causality,STEM
    JEL: I24 I26 J12 J24 J62
    Date: 2022

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