nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2022‒08‒08
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Understanding the decline of interpersonal violence in the ancient middle east Abstract: How did human societies succeed in reducing interpersonal violence, a precondition to achieve security and prosperity? Given that homicide records are only available for the more recent period, much of human history remains virtually outside our purview. To fill this gap, a literature intersecting economics, archaeology, and anthropology has devised reliable methods for studying traumas deliberately inflicted in human skeletal remains. In this paper we reconstruct the early history of conflict by exploiting a novel dataset on weapon-related wounds from skeletons excavated across the Middle East, spanning the whole pre-Classical period (ca. 8,000-400 BCE). By documenting when and how ancient Middle Eastern populations managed to reduce intersocietal violence and achieve remarkable levels of development, we broaden historical perspectives on the structural factors driving human conflict. By Giacomo Benati; Joerg Baten; Arkadiusz Soltysiak
  2. Neither Communes nor Fiefs: King Owned Towns, Right Negotiations and Long Run Persistence. The Case of South Italy By Elisa Borghi; Fabio Gatti; Donato Masciandaro
  3. Deep historical roots, culture choice and the New World Order By Miller, Marcus
  4. Urban Autonomy: Fiefs, Communities and King Owned Towns in South Italy (1000-1806) By Fabio Gatti
  5. Flow of Ideas: Economic Societies and the Rise of Useful Knowledge By Francesco Cinnirella; Erik Hornung; Julius Koschnick
  6. Ideology and Rifles: the Agrarian Origins of Civil Conflict in Colombia By María del Pilar López-Uribe; Fabio Sanchez Torres
  7. Peer effects, self-selection and dishonesty By Liza Charroin; Bernard Fortin; Marie Claire Villeval

  1. By: Giacomo Benati (Universitat de Barcelona); Joerg Baten (University of Tuebingen); Arkadiusz Soltysiak (Warsaw University)
    Keywords: Historical conflict, Middle East, preindustrial economies
    JEL: O15 N15 N35 N45 N55 P48
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Elisa Borghi; Fabio Gatti; Donato Masciandaro
    Abstract: According to the literature, historical episodes of local self-governing institutions can explain why differences in socio-economic performances among different territories can persist over centuries. Such assumption has been tested comparing free city-states (Communes) and feudal towns in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and United Kingdom. This paper explores a third and novel category: the King-owned towns. King-owned towns (KOTs) were present in South Italy when the Kingdom delegated jurisdictional and fiscal powers to the town ruling class, creating a self-governance setting, where the community representatives systematically implemented articulated right negotiations with the Crown, which in turn influenced the evolutions of the municipal statutes of their towns. We interpret this collective action as a mechanism that can explain the persistence effects. Empirically, we find that, given a town, its past king-owned experience is correlated with today outcomes, both in terms of current economic performances and civil capital. These results offer evidence that the KOT status is more similar to the Commune experience than to the fief experience.
    Keywords: Self-Governance, Long Run Persistence, Economic History, Political Institutions, Culture, Economic Geography, Italy
    JEL: D72 H10 N44 O43 O52 K00 R10
    Date: 2022
  3. By: Miller, Marcus (University of Warwick, CAGE and CEPR)
    Abstract: Gerard Roland examines data going back to 3,000 BC for historical roots that might explain the current division of nations as between cultures of collectivism and individualism. In response to the appeal for theories bearing on the empirical evidence presented - and of recent moves by Russia and China to create a New World Order based on similar cultural division - three contributions are discussed. First is the competing powers perspective of Acemoglu and Robinson, who propose that individualism flourishes where power is evenly balanced between the state and the people : otherwise, either Despotism or Disorder will ultimately prevail. Then there is Ken Binmores study of cooperative social contracts : this offers support for stable societies of each cultural type, based on the folk theorem of repeated games. Finally the notion that dictatorship may be sustained by deception rather than repression - by leaders whom Guriev and Treisman call spin dictators. In the light of these perspectives, what to make of the current drive for a new global order that recognizes different spheres of influence for each of Roland’s cultural types? We look specifically at the case of Russia.
    Keywords: Individualism ; Collectivism, Culture ; Social Contracts ; social preferences ; Neofeudalism ; Despotism ; New World Order JEL Classification: C70 ; C73 ; N00 ; P00 ; P50 ; Z10 ; Z13
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Fabio Gatti
    Abstract: Urban governance has been considered a key feature in the political and economic development in Europe in the medieval and early modern times. This paper aims to explore the different institutional settings that characterized the community organization in the Kingdom of Naples, with a particular attention to the case of the King Owned Towns (KOTs), which somehow resembled the North Italian commune experience. Our exploration uncovers experiences of urban autonomy in South Italy, that so fa has been missed in the modern literature on historical urban development, that focused its attention on the case of North Italian and North-West European city’s institutional development.
    Keywords: Economic History, Political Institutions, History, Local Economics, Culture, Italy
    JEL: D72 H10 N44 O43 O52 K00 R10
    Date: 2022
  5. By: Francesco Cinnirella (University of Bergamo); Erik Hornung (University of Cologne); Julius Koschnick (London School of Economics)
    Abstract: Economic societies emerged during the late eighteenth-century. We argue that these institutions reduced the costs of accessing useful knowledge by adopting, producing, and diffusing new ideas. Combining location information for the universe of 3,300 members across active economic soci-eties in Germany with those of patent holders and World’s Fair exhibitors, we show that regions with more members were more innovative in the late nineteenth-century. This long-lasting effect of societies arguably arose through agglomeration economies and localized knowledge spillovers. To support this claim, we provide evidence suggesting an immediate increase in manufacturing, an earlier establishment of vocational schools, and a higher density of highly skilled mechanical workers by mid-nineteenth century in regions with more members. We also show that regions with members from the same society had higher similarity in patenting, suggesting that social networks facilitated spatial knowledge diffusion and, to some extent, shaped the geography of innovation.
    Keywords: Economic Societies, Useful Knowledge, Knowledge Diffusion, Innovation, Social Networks
    JEL: N33 O33 O31 O43
    Date: 2022–07
  6. By: María del Pilar López-Uribe; Fabio Sanchez Torres
    Abstract: We investigate the relationship between land dispossessions of peasants and the origin of the civil conflict in Colombia. Using a matching-pair instrumental variable approach, we show that the historical dispossession of peasants' lands by landlords that led to the rise of peasant grievances is associated with the activity of the rural guerrilla movement -Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) - during the first stage of the Colombian civil conflict ( 1964-1985). We exploit the random variation in floods to identify the effect of peasants' land dispossessions during 1914-1946 on the rise of rural guerrilla movements. Using a novel municipal-level data set, the study documents that municipalities experiencing floods b etween 1914 and 1946 were substantially more likely to experience land dispossession than municipalities that did not. Floods temporarily worsened the conditions of the land and its value, facilitating the dispossession of peasant land by large landowners. We propose two mechanisms through which previous land dispossession resulted in the emergence of rebel-armed groups. On the one hand, the ideological cohesion stemming from radical liberals and communists exacerbated the grievances and helped to shape the political objectives of the rebel armed groups. On the other hand, exposure to prior violent events gave military training, access to weapons, and military experience to the rural population, that likely emboldened the formation of rebel groups.
    Keywords: Land reform, Land Conflict, Property Rights, Weather shocks, Civil Conflict.
    JEL: N46 N56 D74
    Date: 2022–06–28
  7. By: Liza Charroin (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Bernard Fortin (ULaval - Université Laval [Québec]); Marie Claire Villeval (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - Université de Lyon - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IZA - Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit - Institute of Labor Economics)
    Abstract: If individuals tend to behave like their reference group, is it because of peer effects, selfselection, or both? Using a peer effect model allowing for conformity and link formation, we designed a real-effort laboratory experiment in which individuals could misreport their performance and select their peers. Our results reveal both a preference for conformity and homophilous link formation, but only among individuals cheating in isolation. This suggests that such link formation was not motivated by a taste for similarity but by acquiring self-serving information. Importantly, we reject the presence of a self-selection bias in the peer effect estimates by showing that the size of peer effects is similar when identical peers were randomly assigned and when individuals selected them.
    Keywords: Peer effects,Self-selection,Homophily,Dishonesty,Experiment
    Date: 2022

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