nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2023‒01‒09
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Super-Additive Cooperation By Charles Efferson; Helen Bernhard; Urs Fischbacher; Ernst Fehr
  2. On the Emergence of Cooperation in the Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma By Maximilian Schaefer
  3. Medieval Anti-Semitism, Weimar Social Capital, and the Rise of the Nazi Party: A Reconsideration By Timothy W. Guinnane; Philip Hoffman; Timothy Guinnane
  4. Religiosity structures social networks in a Tibetan population By Ge, Erhao; Cairang, Dongzhi; Mace, Ruth
  5. Evolutionary Game-theoretical Rationality, Rejection of Relative Deprivation, Social Intelligence, Inequality in Transaction-role Opportunities, and Social Discrimination: A construction of macro-social and economic theory from a micro-behavioral moder through thought experiments based on the ultimatum game (Japanese) By YAMAGUCHI Kazuo
  6. Trust and Time Preference: Measuring a Causal Effect in a Random-Assignment Experiment By Linas Nasvytis
  7. Behavioral bargaining theory: Equality bias, risk attitude, and reference-dependent utility By Yoshio Kamijo; Koji Yokote

  1. By: Charles Efferson; Helen Bernhard; Urs Fischbacher; Ernst Fehr
    Abstract: Repeated interactions provide a prominent but paradoxical hypothesis for human cooperation in one-shot interactions. Intergroup competitions provide a different hypothesis that is intuitively appealing but heterodox. We show that neither mechanism reliably supports the evolution of cooperation when actions vary continuously. Ambiguous reciprocity, a strategy generally ruled out in models of reciprocal altruism, completely undermines cooperation under repeated interactions, which challenges repeated interactions as a stand-alone explanation for cooperation in both repeated and one-shot settings. Intergroup competitions do not reliably support cooperation because groups tend to be similar under relevant conditions. Moreover, even if groups vary, cooperative groups may lose competitions for several reasons. Although repeated interactions and group competitions do not support cooperation by themselves, combining them often triggers powerful synergies because group competitions can stabilise cooperative strategies against the corrosive effect of ambiguous reciprocity. Evolved strategies often consist of cooperative reciprocity with ingroup partners and uncooperative reciprocity with outgroup partners. Results from a one-shot behavioural experiment in Papua New Guinea fit exactly this pattern. They thus indicate neither an evolutionary history of repeated interactions without group competition nor a history of group competition without repeated interactions. Our results are only consistent with social motives that evolved under the joint influence of both mechanisms together.
    Keywords: evolution of cooperation, reciprocity, intergroup competition, social dilemma
    JEL: C60 C70 C90
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Maximilian Schaefer
    Abstract: This article explores which parameters of the repeated Prisoner's Dilemma lead to cooperation. Using simulations, I demonstrate that the potential function of the stochastic evolutionary dynamics of the Grim Trigger strategy is useful to predict cooperation between Q-learners. The frontier separating the parameter spaces that induce either cooperation or defection can be determined based on the kinetic energy exerted by the respective basins of attraction. When the incentive compatibility constraint of the Grim Trigger strategy is slack, a sudden increase in the observed cooperation rates occurs when the ratio of the kinetic energies approaches a critical value, which itself is a function of the discount factor, multiplied by a correction factor to account for the effect of the algorithms' exploration probability. Using metadata from laboratory experiments, I provide evidence that the insights obtained from the simulations are also useful to explain the emergence of cooperation between humans. The observed cooperation rates show a positive gradient at the frontier characterized by an exploration probability of approximately five percent. In the context of human-to-human interaction, the exploration probability can be viewed as the belief about the opponent's probability to deviate from the equilibrium action.
    Date: 2022–11
  3. By: Timothy W. Guinnane; Philip Hoffman; Timothy Guinnane
    Abstract: The persistence literature in economics and related disciplines connects recent outcomes to events long ago. This influential literature marks a promising development but has drawn criticism. We discuss two prominent examples that ground the rise of the Nazi Party in distant historical roots. Several econometric, analytical, and historical errors undermine the papers’ contention that deeply rooted culture and social capital fueled the Nazi rise. The broader lesson is that research of this type works best when it incorporates careful econometrics, serious consideration of underlying mechanisms (including formal theory), and, most important, scrupulous attention to history and to the limitations of historical data.
    Keywords: historical persistence, medieval pogroms, social capital, culture, networks, Nazism, voting behavior, anti-Semitism, political parties, religion, empirical economics, data based estimates, econometrics
    JEL: C18 D71 D72 D85 D91 L14 N01 N13 N14 Z10 Z12
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Ge, Erhao; Cairang, Dongzhi; Mace, Ruth
    Abstract: Many have attempted to explain the evolutionary origins of religion and some suggest that religiosity promotes cooperation. But the empirical works evaluating the links between religious practices and social cooperative networks have been surprisingly few, and whether religious celibacy helps structure local social support remains to explore. Here, we draw on the religiosity and social support network data among residents of an agricultural Tibetan village to evaluate whether people are more likely to establish supportive relationships with religious individuals and consanguineous kins of celibates, and examine the gender-specific correlations between religiosity and personal network characteristics. We found that religious practices foster social supporting relationships overall. Consanguineous kins of celibate monks enjoy more social acceptance not only by the enhanced probability of having a supportive relationship but also by denser connections among them. Engagement in pilgrimage acts is associated with larger networks for males but not for females, partaking in daily practice correlates with denser networks for both males and females. Particular religious acts may help individuals gain particular types of social network benefits.
    Date: 2022–11–28
  5. By: YAMAGUCHI Kazuo
    Abstract: This paper presents an example for a macro-social and economic theory derived from the evolutionary game-theoretical micro-behavioral model. The theory introduced in this paper is based on thought experiments and simulations of the ultimatum game and leads to the following findings. (1) From the evolutionary game-theoretical viewpoint, a rejection of relative deprivation based on a certain threshold of rejection becomes more rational under a broad range of initial conditionals than the rational choice in the sense of the neoclassical economic theory. (2) Under the equality of opportunity in the role of transactions, a development of social intelligence that enables the cognition of heterogeneous others’ strategies (which imply the patterns of choices) reinforces the tendency described in (1). As the proportion of people who acquired social intelligence increases, the choice of a threshold of rejection which is closer to a choice of egalitarian actors becomes more rational and evolutionarily stable. The development of social intelligence makes people obtain higher benefits, on average, because it increases the rate of attaining agreements among heterogeneous actors and thereby reduces the transaction costs. (3) Under the inequality of opportunity in the role of transactions where “proposers†are price setters and “responders†are price takers, rational actors in the neoclassical economic sense obtain the largest benefits as responders when no social intelligence exists among proposers. However, a development of social intelligence among proposers makes responders who reject relative deprivation below an uncertain threshold obtain more benefits than rational actors, and thereby makes the former actors more evolutionarily stable than the latter actors. (4) Acquisition of social intelligence among proposers under the inequality of opportunity in the role of transactions makes the rate of agreement between proposers and responders higher, and thereby make people wealthier on average by reducing the transaction costs. (5) When responders who acquired social intelligence use their knowledge of proposers’ strategies to select proposers for whom responders can expect a smaller extent of relative deprivation in transactions, it generates a transfer of benefits from proposers to responders without changing the average benefits for the population of proposers and responders, by increasing the proportion of agreements which have a smaller extent of relative deprivation for responders, and therefore makes society attain more equality between proposers and responders without changing the average wealth among people. (6) When proposers who acquired social intelligence use their knowledge of responders’ strategies to discriminate against responders who seek a smaller extent of relative deprivation, it generates a reduction in the average benefits not only among responders but also among proposers. This occurs because when proposers with social intelligence avoid responders with a higher threshold of rejection, proposers without social intelligence are matched with those responders and are likely to fail to attain agreements with the responders, and the average gain of benefits that proposers with social intelligence obtain is smaller in amount than the average loss of benefits that proposers without social intelligence obtain. Thus, the selective choice of more “exploitable†responders by proposers with social intelligence has a significant negative externality in making society less wealthy by increasing the average transaction costs. The paper also discusses implications of these findings with respect to the labor market issues in Japan.
    Date: 2022–12
  6. By: Linas Nasvytis
    Abstract: Large amounts of evidence suggest that trust levels in a country are an important determinant of its macroeconomic growth. In this paper, we investigate one channel through which trust might support economic performance: through the levels of patience, also known as time preference in the economics literature. Following Gabaix and Laibson (2017), we first argue that time preference can be modelled as optimal Bayesian inference based on noisy signals about the future, so that it is affected by the perceived certainty of future outcomes. Drawing on neuroscience literature, we argue that the mechanism linking trust and patience could be facilitated by the neurotransmitter oxytocin. On the one hand, it is a neural correlate of trusting behavior. On the other, it has an impact on the brain's encoding of prediction error, and could therefore increase the perceived certainty of a neural representation of a future event. The relationship between trust and time preference is tested experimentally using the Trust Game. While the paper does not find a significant effect of trust on time preference or the levels of certainty, it proposes an experimental design that can successfully manipulate people's short-term levels of trust for experimental purposes.
    Date: 2022–11
  7. By: Yoshio Kamijo (Waseda University); Koji Yokote (JSPS Research Fellow, Graduate School of Economics, the University of Tokyo)
    Abstract: We develop a new theory, termed the behavioral bargaining theory (henceforth, BBT), that explains various observed behaviors in bargaining experiments in a unified manner. The key idea is to modify Nash’s (1950) model by endowing the players’ utility functions with a new concept, named entitlement, that represents the amount of money the player feels entitled to receive. We first apply BBT to explain the equality bias that is widely observed in the laboratory. We argue that our explanation of the bias in terms of entitlements is more easily interpretable than the extant explanation in terms of risk attitudes. Then, we demonstrate that BBT can also explain other behavioral patterns beyond the equality bias by suitably setting entitlements. Finally, we provide empirical support to BBT by using experimental data from Takeuchi et al. (2022), where entitlements of players can be inferred from the experimental design.
    Keywords: Behavioral bargaining theory, Nash bargaining solution, Reference dependent utility, Equality bias, Equal-split norm
    Date: 2022–12

This nep-evo issue is ©2023 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.