nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2023‒01‒02
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. The Good of Rules: An experimental study on prosocial behavior By Caserta, Maurizio; Distefano, Rosaria; Ferrante, Livio
  3. A Measure of Behavioral Heterogeneity By Jose Apesteguia; Miguel Ángel Ballester
  4. Honesty in the City By Martin Dufwenberg; Paul Feldman; Maros Servatka; Jorge Tarraso; Radovan Vadovic
  5. Economics and history: Analyzing serfdom By Sheilagh Ogilvie
  6. African time travellers: what can we learn from 500 years of written accounts? By Edward Kerby; Alexander Moradi; Hanjo Odendaal
  7. Trust, guilds and kinship in London, 1330-1680 By Adam, Ammaarah; Ades, Raphael; Banks, William; Benning, Canbeck; Grant, Gwyneth; Forster-Brass, Harry; McGiveron, Owen; Miller, Joe; Phelan, Daniel; Randazzo, Sebastian; Reilly, Matthew; Scott, Michael; Serban, Sebastian; Stockton, Carys; Wallis, Patrick

  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: 2022–06–04
  2. By: Caserta, Maurizio; Distefano, Rosaria; Ferrante, Livio
    Abstract: In everyday life, individuals interact with relatives, friends and colleagues, share ideas and passions and cooperate with others to pursue common goals. Within each social domain, individuals recognize themselves as a group member with rights and duties to observe. Understanding the importance of social norms and encouraging mutually beneficial cooperation is crucial for societal and economic development. This paper presents an experimental study of an educational program for early adolescents of 11 years old from South Italy. The program introduces participants to institutions, civic engagement, sense of duty, and decision-making. Among other didactic activities, it includes guided tours and a role-taking game. Our results suggest that the program attendance positively affects cooperation in a one-shot Prisoner’s Dilemma and altruistic behavior in a Dictator Game. Our findings contribute to the nature-nurture debate, showing that promoting prosocial behavior can be effective in pursing the common good.
    Keywords: Experimental game theory; Group Decision Making; Cooperation; Prisoner’s Dilemma; Dictator Game.
    JEL: C72 C93 I20
    Date: 2022–02–07
  3. By: Jose Apesteguia; Miguel Ángel Ballester
    Abstract: In this paper we propose a novel way to measure behavioral heterogeneity in a population of stochastic individuals. Our measure is choice-based; it evaluates the probability that, over a sampled menu, the sampled choices of two sampled individuals differ. We provide axiomatic foundations for this measure, and a decomposition result that separates heterogeneity into its intra- and inter-personal components.
    Keywords: heterogeneity, intra-personal, inter-personal, axiomatic foundations
    JEL: D01
    Date: 2022–11
  4. By: Martin Dufwenberg (University of Arizona); Paul Feldman (Texas A&M University); Maros Servatka (Macquarie Business School, University of Alaska Anchorage); Jorge Tarraso (Libretto); Radovan Vadovic (Carleton University)
    Abstract: Lab evidence on trust games involves more cooperation than conventional economic theory predicts. We explore whether this pattern extends to a field setting where we are able to control for (lack of) repeat-play and reputation: the taxi market in Mexico City. We find a remarkable degree of trustworthiness, even with price-haggling which was predicted to reduce trustworthiness.
    Keywords: trustworthiness, honesty, reciprocity, field experiment, haggling, taxis, Mexico City
    JEL: C72 C90 C93 D91
    Date: 2022–11
  5. By: Sheilagh Ogilvie
    Abstract: Economics and history are often regarded as antithetical. This paper argues the opposite. It builds its case by showing how economics and history provide complementary approaches to analyzing a fundamental historical institution: serfdom. The paper scrutinizes three questions: how serfdom shaped peasant choices, how it constrained those choices, and how it affected entire societies. By working together, economics and history have generated better answers to these questions than either discipline could have achieved in isolation. Economic and historical approaches, the paper concludes, are not substitutes but complements.
  6. By: Edward Kerby; Alexander Moradi; Hanjo Odendaal
    Abstract: In this paper we study 500 years of African economic history using traveller accounts. We systematically collected 2,464 unique documents, of which 855 pass language and rigorous data quality requirements. Our final corpus of texts contains more than 230,000 pages. Analysing such a corpus is an insurmountable task for traditional historians and would probably take a lifetime’s work. Applying modern day computational linguistic techniques such as a structural topic model approach (STM) in combination with domain knowledge of African economic history, we analyse how first hand accounts (topics) evolve across space, time and traveller occupations. Apart from obvious accounts of climate, geography and zoology, we find topics around imperialism, diplomacy, conflict, trade/commerce, health/medicine, evangelization and many more topics of interest to scholarship. We find that some topics follow notable epochs defined by underlying relevance and that travellers’ occupational backgrounds influence the narratives in their writing. Many topics exhibit good temporal and spatial coverage, and a large variation in occupational backgrounds adding different perspectives to a topic. This makes the large body of written accounts a promising source to systemically shed new light on some of Africa’s precolonial past.
  7. By: Adam, Ammaarah; Ades, Raphael; Banks, William; Benning, Canbeck; Grant, Gwyneth; Forster-Brass, Harry; McGiveron, Owen; Miller, Joe; Phelan, Daniel; Randazzo, Sebastian; Reilly, Matthew; Scott, Michael; Serban, Sebastian; Stockton, Carys; Wallis, Patrick
    Abstract: How was trust created and reinforced between the inhabitants of medieval and early modern cities? And how did the social foundations of trusting relationships change over time? Current research highlights the role of kinship, neighbourhood and associations, particularly guilds, in creating ‘relationships of trust’ and social capital in the face of high levels of migration, mortality and economic volatility, but tells us little about their relative importance or how they developed. We uncover a profound shift in the contribution of family and guilds to trust networks among the middling and elite of one of Europe’s major cities, London, over three centuries, from the 1330s to the 1680s. We examine the networks of sureties created to secure the inheritances of children whose fathers died while they were minors, surviving in the records of London’s Orphans Court. Our analysis of almost fifteen thousand networks evaluates the presence of trusting relationships connected with guild membership, family and place over several centuries. We show a profound increase in the role of kinship – a re-embedding of trust within the family - and a decline of the importance of shared guild membership in connecting Londoner’s who secured orphans’ inheritances together. We suggest these developments are best explained as a result of the impact of the Reformation on the form and intensity of sociability fostered by guilds and the enormous growth of the metropolis.
    Keywords: orphans; networks; trust; credit; London; guilds; kinship; reformation; early-modern
    JEL: N20 N13 N33 N93 Z13
    Date: 2022–11–01

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