nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2023‒02‒20
six papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Epictetusian Rationality and Evolutionary Stability By Ponthiere, Gregory
  2. Processes analogous to ecological interactions and dispersal shape the dynamics of economic activities By Victor Boussange; Didier Sornette; Heike Lischke; Lo\"ic Pellissier
  3. Strategic Behavior with Tight, Loose and Polarized Norms By Eugen Dimant; Michele Gelfand; Anna Hochleitner; Silvia Sonderegger
  4. Do different people report the same social norms? By Geoffrey Castillo; Lawrence Choo; Veronika Grimm
  5. The Economics of Woman's Rights The Mary Paley and Alfred Marshall Lecture By Michele Tertilt; Matthias Doepke; Anne Hannusch; Laura Montenbruck
  6. How many people on earth? World population 1800-1938 By Federico, Giovanni; Tena Junguito, Antonio

  1. By: Ponthiere, Gregory
    Abstract: An economic interpretation of Epictetus's precept of 'Taking away aversion from all things not in our power' consists of extending the do- main of indifference beyond its boundaries under non-ethical preferences, so as to yield indifference between outcomes differing only on things out- side one's control. This paper examines the evolutionary dynamics of a population composed of Nash agents and Epictetusian agents matched randomly and interacting in the prisoner's dilemma game. It is shown that, whether or not the types of players are common knowledge, nei- ther the Nash nor the Epictetusian type is an evolutionary stable strategy under perfectly random matching. However, if the matching process ex- hibits a suffi ciently high degree of assortativity, the Epictetusian type is an evolutionary stable strategy, and drives the Nash type to extinction.
    Keywords: ethical preferences, evolutionary stability, cooperation, prisoner's dilemma, Epictetus
    JEL: C73 C62 D60
    Date: 2023
  2. By: Victor Boussange; Didier Sornette; Heike Lischke; Lo\"ic Pellissier
    Abstract: The processes of ecological interactions, dispersal and mutations shape the dynamics of biological communities, and analogous eco-evolutionary processes acting upon economic entities have been proposed to explain economic change. This hypothesis is compelling because it explains economic change through endogenous mechanisms, but it has not been quantitatively tested at the global economy level. Here, we use an inverse modelling technique and 59 years of economic data covering 77 countries to test whether the collective dynamics of national economic activities can be characterised by eco-evolutionary processes. We estimate the statistical support of dynamic community models in which the dynamics of economic activities are coupled with positive and negative interactions between the activities, the spatial dispersal of the activities, and their transformations into other economic activities. We find strong support for the models capturing positive interactions between economic activities and spatial dispersal of the activities across countries. These results suggest that processes akin to those occurring in ecosystems play a significant role in the dynamics of economic systems. The strength-of-evidence obtained for each model varies across countries and may be caused by differences in the distance between countries, specific institutional contexts, and historical contingencies. Overall, our study provides a new quantitative, biologically inspired framework to study the forces shaping economic change.
    Date: 2023–01
  3. By: Eugen Dimant; Michele Gelfand; Anna Hochleitner; Silvia Sonderegger
    Abstract: Descriptive norms – the behavior of other individuals in one’s reference group – play a key role in shaping individual decisions. When characterizing the behavior of others, a standard approach in the literature is to focus on average behavior. In this paper, we argue both theoretically and empirically that not only averages but also the shape of the whole distribution of behavior can play a crucial role in how people react to descriptive norms. Using a representative sample of the U.S. population, we experimentally investigate how individuals react to strategic environments that are characterized by different distributions of behavior, focusing on the distinction between tight (i.e., characterized by low behavioral variance), loose (i.e., characterized by high behavioral variance), and polarized (i.e., characterized by u-shaped behavior) environments. We find that individuals indeed strongly respond to differences in the variance and shape of the descriptive norm they are facing: loose norms generate greater behavioral variance and polarization generates polarized responses. In polarized environments, most individuals prefer extreme actions – which expose them to considerable strategic risk – to intermediate actions that minimize such risk. Importantly, we also find that relative to tight environments, in polarized and loose environments, personal traits and values play a larger role in determining actual behavior. This provides important insights into how individuals navigate environments that contain strategic uncertainty.
    Keywords: cooperation, descriptive norms, variance, peer effects
    JEL: C91 D01
    Date: 2023
  4. By: Geoffrey Castillo (VCEE - Vienna Center for Experimental Economics, University of Vienna); Lawrence Choo (China Center for Behavioral Economics and Finance, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics); Veronika Grimm (FAU - Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)
    Abstract: If the Krupka-Weber (2013) norm-elicitation task captures pre-existing social norms, then the elicited norms should be independent of one's role in a game or one's social preferences. We test this idea in a complex game that features rich interactions. We find that different people, even when they have conflicting incentives, report the same social norms. Our results further validate the use of the Krupka-Weber task to measure social norms.
    Keywords: social norms, norm elicitation, laboratory experiment, methodology, ultimatum game
    Date: 2022–07–08
  5. By: Michele Tertilt; Matthias Doepke; Anne Hannusch; Laura Montenbruck
    Abstract: Two centuries ago, in most countries around the world, women were unable to vote, had no say over their own children or property, and could not obtain a divorce. Women have gradually gained rights in many areas of life, and this legal expansion has been closely intertwined with economic development. We aim to understand the drivers behind these reforms. To this end, we distinguish between four types of women’s rights—economic, political, labor, and body—and document their evolution over the past 50 years across countries. We summarize the political-economy mechanisms that link economic development to changes in women’s rights and show empirically that these mechanisms account for a large share of the variation in women’s rights across countries and over time
    Keywords: Women's Rights, Female Suffrage, Family Economics, Bargaining, Political Economy
    JEL: D13 D72 E24 J12 J16 N4 N30 O10 O43
    Date: 2022–11
  6. By: Federico, Giovanni; Tena Junguito, Antonio
    Abstract: The number of people is one of the most basic information about any society but it is difficult to know it. The data are missing for most of human history and scarce and/or hardly reliable for advanced countries until the early 19th century and for the rest of the world until the mid-20th century. Yet, historical demographers have tried hard and often successfully to estimate population in the past, but their results have often been neglected in the most common general historical data-bases. Thus, we do not have a continuous series of world population at least until World War One if not until 1950. In this paper we fill this gap by re-estimating series of population for all polities from 1800 to 1938 using first-hand sources and country-specific literature. We use our series to address two issues which have attracted some attention by economist and economic historians in the last years, the start of the demographic transition and the impact of major demographic crises such as the Tai'ping civil war, World War One and the Spanish flu.
    Keywords: World Population Dataset; Demographic Transition
    JEL: I10 J11 J13
    Date: 2023–01–31

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