nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2022‒11‒28
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Millet, Rice, and Isolation: Origins and Persistence of the World's Most Enduring Mega-State By Kung, James Kai-sing; Özak, Ömer; Putterman, Louis; Shi, Shuang
  2. Resisting Education By Jean-Paul Carvalho; Mark Koyama; Cole Williams
  3. Evolution of the prior beliefs in the simple Bayesian hypothesis tests: A selection of the testing agents with the correct beliefs By Mitsunobu MIYAKE
  4. Publication bias impacts on effect size, statistical power, and magnitude (Type M) and sign (Type S) errors in ecology and evolutionary biology By Yang, Yefeng; Sánchez-Tójar, Alfredo; O'Dea, Rose E; Noble, Daniel W.A.; Koricheva, Julia; Jennions, Michael D; Parker, Timothy H.; Lagisz, Malgorzata; Nakagawa, Shinichi
  5. Connecting the Dots: Loss Aversion, Sybil Attacks, and Welfare Maximization By Yotam Gafni; Moshe Tennenholtz
  6. A systematic literature review of 10 years of behavioral research on health services By Finocchiaro Castro, Massimo; Guccio, Calogero; Romeo, Domenica
  7. Epidemiological Expectations By Christopher D. Carroll; Tao Wang

  1. By: Kung, James Kai-sing; Özak, Ömer (Southern Methodist University); Putterman, Louis; Shi, Shuang
    Abstract: We propose and test empirically a theory describing the endogenous formation and persistence of mega-states, using China as an example. We suggest that the relative timing of the emergence of agricultural societies, and their distance from each other, set off a race between their autochthonous state-building projects, which determines their extent and persistence. Using a novel dataset describing the historical presence of Chinese states, prehistoric development, the diffusion of agriculture, and migratory distance across 1-degree x 1-degree grid cells in eastern Asia, we find that cells that adopted agriculture earlier and were close to Erlitou -- the earliest political center in eastern Asia -- remained under Chinese control for longer and continue to be a part of China today. By contrast, cells that adopted agriculture early and were located further from Erlitou developed into independent states, as agriculture provided the fertile ground for state-formation, while isolation provided time for them to develop and confront the expanding Chinese empire. Our study sheds important light on why eastern Asia kept reproducing a mega-state in the area that became China and on the determinants of its borders with other states.
    Date: 2022–06–05
  2. By: Jean-Paul Carvalho; Mark Koyama; Cole Williams
    Abstract: Educational institutions not only build human capital; they also shape culture. We present a model of cultural dynamics produced by cultural transmission through the education system. Groups that are culturally marginalized are also economically disadvantaged and exhibit various forms of resistance to education. First, individuals may drop out of education to avoid its cultural content. Second, individuals may invest in other forms of socialization to tune out the cultural content of education. Finally, cultural communities may collectively resist mainstream education by turning out to change curricula or establish their own schools. We show that resistance to education can make it impossible for a policymaker to eliminate alternative cultural traits from the population. In fact, a policymaker may have to moderate the cultural content of education or else face a backlash which increases the spread of alternative cultural traits. Our analysis unifies a growing body of work on the effects of cultural policies and makes new predictions regarding the effect of socializing institutions on cultural dynamics.
    Date: 2022–09–01
  3. By: Mitsunobu MIYAKE
    Abstract: In general, a successful decision maker need not have been endowed with the correct prior belief on the states of nature. This paper, however, demonstrates that a simple Bayesian hypothesis test scheme has a good property: The probability of a testing agent to obtain the optimal outcome is maximized only if the prior belief of the agent coincides with the "correct" one, when the agent selects the Bayesian-optimal strategy with respect to his or her (own) prior belief. Consequently, in an evolutional setting, where the Bayesian test is conducted repeatedly in parallel by many testing agents with diverse prior beliefs, if the fitness value is determined by the outcome, then only the agents endowed with the correct prior beliefs survive. This result expains why an agent's prior belief can be assumed to coincide with the correct one in the Bayesian hypothesis test, as if the agent knows the true probability that was assigned by nature.
    Date: 2022–08–24
  4. By: Yang, Yefeng (City University of Hong Kong); Sánchez-Tójar, Alfredo (Bielefeld University); O'Dea, Rose E; Noble, Daniel W.A. (University of New South Wales); Koricheva, Julia; Jennions, Michael D; Parker, Timothy H. (Whitman College); Lagisz, Malgorzata (University of New South Wales); Nakagawa, Shinichi (University of New South Wales)
    Abstract: Collaborative assessments of direct replicability of empirical studies in the medical and social sciences have exposed alarmingly low rates of replicability, a phenomenon dubbed the ‘replication crisis’. Poor replicability has spurred cultural changes targeted at improving reliability in these disciplines. Given the absence of equivalent replication projects in ecology and evolutionary biology, two inter-related indicators offer us the possibility to retrospectively assess replicability: publication bias and statistical power. This registered report assesses the prevalence and severity of small-study (i.e., smaller studies reporting larger effect sizes) and decline effects (i.e., effect sizes decreasing over time) across ecology and evolutionary biology using 87 meta-analyses including 4,250 primary studies and 17,638 effect sizes. Further, we estimate how publication bias might distort the estimation of effect sizes, statistical power, and errors in magnitude (Type M or exaggeration ratio) and sign (Type S). We show strong evidence for the pervasiveness of both small-study and decline effects in ecology and evolution. There was widespread prevalence of publication bias that resulted in meta-analytic means being over-estimated by (at least) 0.12 standard deviations. The prevalence of publication bias distorted confidence in meta-analytic results with 66% of initially statistically significant meta-analytic means becoming non-significant after correcting for publication bias. Ecological and evolutionary studies consistently had a low statistical power (15%) with a 4-fold exaggeration of effects on average (Type M error rates = 4.4). Notably, publication bias aggravates low power (from 23% to 15%) and type M error rates (from 2.7 to 4.4) because it creates a non-random sample of effect size evidence. The sign errors of effect sizes (Type S error) increased from 5% to 8% because of publication bias. Our research provides clear evidence that many published ecological and evolutionary findings are inflated. Our results highlight the importance of designing high-power empirical studies (e.g., via collaborative team science), promoting and encouraging replication studies, testing and correcting for publication bias in meta-analyses, and embracing open and transparent research practices, such as (pre)registration, data- and code-sharing, and transparent reporting.
    Date: 2022–09–12
  5. By: Yotam Gafni; Moshe Tennenholtz
    Abstract: A celebrated known cognitive bias of individuals is that the pain of losing is psychologically higher than the pleasure of gaining. In robust decision making under uncertainty, this approach is typically associated with the selection of safety (aka security) level strategies. We consider a refined notion, which we term loss aversion, capturing the fact that when comparing two actions an agent should not care about payoffs in situations where they lead to identical payoffs, removing trivial equivalencies. We study the properties of loss aversion, its relations to other robust notions, and illustrate its use in auctions and other settings. Moreover, while loss aversion is a classical cognitive bias on the side of decision makers, the problem of economic design is to maximize social welfare when facing self-motivated participants. In online environments, such as the Web, participants' incentives take a novel form originating from the lack of clear agent identity -- the ability to create Sybil attacks, i.e., the ability of each participant to act using multiple identities. It is well-known that Sybil attacks are a major obstacle for welfare-maximization. Our major result proves that the celebrated VCG mechanism is welfare maximizing when agents are loss-averse, even under Sybil attacks. Altogether, our work shows a successful fundamental synergy between cognitive bias/robustness under uncertainty, economic design, and agents' strategic manipulations in online multi-agent systems.
    Date: 2022–10
  6. By: Finocchiaro Castro, Massimo; Guccio, Calogero; Romeo, Domenica
    Abstract: Behavioral economics is, nowadays, a well-established approach to investigate agents’ actions under economic incentives. In the last decade, a fast-growing number of studies have focused on the application of behavioral to health policy issues. The results of that stream of literature have been intriguing and strongly policy-oriented. However, those findings are scattered between different health-related topics, making difficult to grasp the overall state-of-the-art. Hence, to make the main contributions understandable at a glance, we conduct a systematic literature review of laboratory experiments on the supply of health services. Of the 1,084 articles retrieved from 2011, 36 articles published in peer review journals have met our inclusion criteria. For them, we describe the different experimental settings, and we classify them according to the main area of interest. Finally, we provide some insights for future research in the field.
    Keywords: laboratory experiments,health services,supply,systematic literature review,physicians’ behavior,payment systems,health policy
    JEL: C91 C92 I11
    Date: 2022
  7. By: Christopher D. Carroll; Tao Wang
    Abstract: ‘Epidemiological’ models of belief formation put social interactions at their core; such models are widely used by scholars who are not economists to study the dynamics of beliefs in populations. We survey the literature in which economists attempting to model the consequences of beliefs about the future – ‘expectations’ – have employed a full-fledged epidemiological approach to explore an economic question. We draw connections to related work on ‘contagion,’ narrative economics, news/rumor spreading, and the spread of internet memes. A main theme of the paper is that a number of independent developments have recently converged to make epidemiological expectations (‘EE’) modeling more feasible and appealing than in the past.
    JEL: D81 D91 E71 G41
    Date: 2022–10

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