nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2022‒09‒26
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Intrinsic fluctuations of reinforcement learning promote cooperation By Wolfram Barfuss; Janusz Meylahn
  2. Motives Behind Cooperation in Finitely Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma By Anujit Chakraborty
  3. Belief in Egalitarianism and Meritocracy By Hideaki Goto
  4. The effect of gender norms on gender-based sorting across occupations By Marcén, Miriam; Morales, Marina
  5. Cognitive Hierarchies in Multi-Stage Games of Incomplete Information By Po-Hsuan Lin
  6. Occupational sorting on genes By Thomas Buser; Rafael Ahlskog; Magnus Johannesson; Sven Oskarsson
  7. Culture, Intra-household Distribution and Individual Poverty By Ulugbek Aminjonov; Olivier Bargain; Maira Colacce; Luca Tiberti

  1. By: Wolfram Barfuss; Janusz Meylahn
    Abstract: In this work, we ask for and answer what makes classical reinforcement learning cooperative. Cooperating in social dilemma situations is vital for animals, humans, and machines. While evolutionary theory revealed a range of mechanisms promoting cooperation, the conditions under which agents learn to cooperate are contested. Here, we demonstrate which and how individual elements of the multi-agent learning setting lead to cooperation. Specifically, we consider the widely used temporal-difference reinforcement learning algorithm with epsilon-greedy exploration in the classic environment of an iterated Prisoner's dilemma with one-period memory. Each of the two learning agents learns a strategy that conditions the following action choices on both agents' action choices of the last round. We find that next to a high caring for future rewards, a low exploration rate, and a small learning rate, it is primarily intrinsic stochastic fluctuations of the reinforcement learning process which double the final rate of cooperation to up to 80\%. Thus, inherent noise is not a necessary evil of the iterative learning process. It is a critical asset for the learning of cooperation. However, we also point out the trade-off between a high likelihood of cooperative behavior and achieving this in a reasonable amount of time. Our findings are relevant for purposefully designing cooperative algorithms and regulating undesired collusive effects.
    Date: 2022–09
  2. By: Anujit Chakraborty (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)
    Abstract: This paper deploys a novel experiment to compare four theories that explain both selfish and non-selfish cooperation. The four theories capture incomplete information (à la Kreps et al. (1982)) alongside the following four non-selfish motives: caring about others (Altruism), being conscientious about cooperation (Duty), enjoying social-efficiency (Efficiency-Seeking), and reciprocity (Sequential Reciprocity). Our experimental design varies the decline-rate of future rewards, under which these theories make contrasting predictions. We find that Efficiency-Seeking is the other-regarding behavior that fits the experimental data best. A Finite Mixture Model analysis finds that 40-49% of our subjects are selfish, 36-45% are Efficiency-seeking, 1-4% are Duty players, and 6-20% are Altruistic.
    JEL: C72 C73 C92
    Date: 2022–09–15
  3. By: Hideaki Goto (IUJ Research Institutey, International University of Japan)
    Abstract: Why do people often distribute joint surplus in an egalitarian way even when the payoffs for more productive people are lower than those distributed in a meritocratic way? In particular, does a stationary state exist in which more productive people believe in egalitarianism even when distaste for meritocracy decreases as meritocratic payoffs increase? We extend the Bisin–Verdier model of cultural transmission to address these questions and demonstrate that such a stationary state exists, but is stable only under certain conditions. Therefore, the fractions of people believing in egalitarianism and meritocracy may continue to fluctuate.
    Keywords: Belief in distributive principles; Egalitarianism; Meritocracy; Cultural transmission
    Date: 2022–08
  4. By: Marcén, Miriam; Morales, Marina
    Abstract: Despite the notable progress that has been made in bridging the gap between women and men in the world of work, women are still underrepresented in several occupations. In this article, the effect of gender norms on whether women enter male-dominated occupations is analysed using differences in gender equality among early-arrival migrants. The variations in gender norms according to the cultural backgrounds of those migrants by country of origin are exploited to identify their impact on occupational choices. Using data from the American Community Survey, it is found that greater gender equality in the country of origin reduces the gender gap in maledominated occupations. Suggestive evidence is further shown on the roles of job flexibility and women's relative preferences for family-friendly jobs in shaping gender-based sorting across occupations.
    Keywords: culture,gender,occupation,remote work
    JEL: J24 J16 Z13
    Date: 2022
  5. By: Po-Hsuan Lin
    Abstract: We explore the dynamic cognitive hierarchy (CH) theory proposed by Lin and Palfrey (2022) in the setting of multi-stage games of incomplete information. In such an environment, players will learn other players' payoff-relevant types and levels of sophistication at the same time as the history unfolds. For a class of two-person dirty faces games, we fully characterize the dynamic CH solution, predicting that lower-level players will figure out their face types in later periods than higher-level players. Finally, we re-analyze the dirty faces game experimental data from Bayer and Chan (2007) and find the dynamic CH solution can better explain the data than the static CH solution.
    Date: 2022–08
  6. By: Thomas Buser (University of Amsterdam); Rafael Ahlskog (Uppsala University); Magnus Johannesson (tockholm School of Economics); Sven Oskarsson (Uppsala University)
    Abstract: We use a novel approach to explore how people sort into different careers based on their personality skills. We link genetic data from individuals in the Swedish Twin Registry to government register data, making use of new polygenic indices that capture the genetic predispositions of individuals towards a range of relevant cognitive skills, personality traits, and economic preferences. We first present a detailed mapping of these genetic tendencies by occupation and study major. We show that – conditional on their socio-economic background – people who sort into different study majors and occupations differ significantly in their genetic predispositions. We then take advantage of random genetic variation between siblings to show that this sorting is at least partially due to a causal effect of genetic tendencies on career choices. Our results shed new light on the determinants of some of the most impactful decisions people must make in their lives.
    Keywords: personality traits, cognitive skills, behavioral genetics, labor markets, education
    JEL: D91 J24
    Date: 2022–09–07
  7. By: Ulugbek Aminjonov; Olivier Bargain; Maira Colacce; Luca Tiberti
    Abstract: Traditional family structures often have persistent effects on household decisions. We question whether kinship ancestries of post-marital residence -- i.e. living with the parents of the groom (patrilocality) or the bride (matrilocality) -- still affect household consumption sharing and individual poverty. We focus on Ghana and Malawi, two countries in which patrilocal and matrilocal traditions coexist in the present-day ethnic distribution. We estimate a model of resource allocation using household expenditure surveys and information on prevalent ethnic norms. Estimations show that ancestral patrilocality, relative to matrilocality, corresponds to a 10 percent lower share of resources accruing to women on average and a substantially higher prevalence of poverty for women at most household consumption levels. Women's resource shares tend to increase with age, a pattern more pronounced for matrilocal groups. These results indicate how a combination of cultural and demographic factors can be used to improve policies targeted at poor individuals (rather than poor households).
    Keywords: Cultural norms, Collective Model, Sharing rule, Individual poverty, Intra-household inequality
    JEL: D13 I15 J12 J16 Z13
    Date: 2022

This nep-evo issue is ©2022 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.