nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2023‒04‒03
six papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Evolutionary Game Theory and the Adaptive Dynamics Approach: Adaptation where Individuals Interact By Avila, Piret; Mullon, Charles
  2. Slavery and the British Industrial Revolution By Heblich, Stephan; Redding, Stephen J; Voth, Hans-Joachim
  3. Nash equilibrium selection by eigenvalue control By Wang Zhijian
  4. Using Behavioral Economics for Behavioral Change By Asad Saleem
  5. Changing local customs: Long-run impacts of the earliest campaigns against female genital cutting By Congdon Fors, Heather; Isaksson, Ann-Sofie; Annika, Lindskog
  6. Gender equality, growth, and how a technological trap destroyed female work By Humphries, Jane; Schneider, Benjamin

  1. By: Avila, Piret; Mullon, Charles
    Abstract: Evolutionary game theory and the adaptive dynamics approach have made invaluable contributions to understand how gradual evolution leads to adaptation when individuals interact. Here, we review some of the basic tools that have come out of these contributions to model the evolution of quantitative traits in complex populations. We collect together mathematical expressions that describe directional and disruptive selection in class- and group-structured populations in terms of individual fitness, with the aims of bridging different models and interpreting selection. In particular, our review of disruptive selection suggests there are two main paths that can lead to diversity: (i) when individual fitness increases more than linearly with trait expression; (ii) when trait expression simultaneously increases the probability that an individual is in a certain context (e.g. a given age, sex, habitat, size or social environment) and fitness in that context. We provide various examples of these and more broadly argue that population structure lays the ground for the emergence of polymorphism with unique characteristics. Beyond this, we hope that the descriptions of selection we present here help see the tight links among fundamental branches of evolutionary biology, from life-history to social evolution through evolutionary ecology, and thus favour further their integration.
    Date: 2023–03–06
  2. By: Heblich, Stephan (University of Toronto and NBER); Redding, Stephen J (Princeton University, NBER and CEPR); Voth, Hans-Joachim (University of Zurich, CEPR and CAGE)
    Abstract: Did overseas slave-holding by Britons accelerate the Industrial Revolution? We provide theory and evidence on the contribution of slave wealth to Britain’s growth prior to 1835. We compare areas of Britain with high and low exposure to the colonial plantation economy, using granular data on wealth from compensation records. Before the major expansion of slave holding from the 1640s onwards, both types of area exhibited similar levels of economic activity. However, by the 1830s, slavery wealth is strongly correlated with economic development – slave-holding areas are less agricultural, closer to cotton mills, and have higher property wealth. We rationalize these findings using a dynamic spatial model, where slavery investment raises the return to capital accumulation, expanding production in capital-intensive sectors. To establish causality, we use arguably exogenous variation in slave mortality on the passage from Africa to the Indies, driven by weather shocks. We show that weather shocks influenced the continued involvement of ancestors in the slave trade; weather-induced slave mortality of slave-trading ancestors in each area is strongly predictive of slaveholding in 1833. Quantifying our model using the observed data, we find that Britain would have been substantially poorer and more agricultural in the absence of overseas slave wealth. Overall, our findings are consistent with the view that slavery wealth accelerated Britain’s industrial revolution.
    Keywords: slavery, industrial revolution, trade, nance JEL Classification: J15, F60, N63
    Date: 2023
  3. By: Wang Zhijian
    Abstract: People choose their strategies through a trial-and-error learning process in which they gradually discover that some strategies work better than others. The process can be modelled as an evolutionary game dynamics system, which may be controllable. In modern control theory, eigenvalue (pole) assignment is a basic approach to designing a full-state feedback controller, which can influence the outcome of a game. This study shows that, in a game with two Nash equilibria, the long-running strategy distribution can be controlled by pole assignment. We illustrate a theoretical workflow to design and evaluate the controller. To our knowledge, this is the first realisation of the control of equilibrium selection by design in the game dynamics theory paradigm. We hope the controller can be verified in a laboratory human subject game experiment.
    Date: 2023–02
  4. By: Asad Saleem (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics)
    Abstract: By applying economic and psychological theories, behavioral economics may remove obstacles to behavior modification. Unpredictable decision errors that affect human decision-making and may sabotage wise decisions are identified as a key contribution of the discipline. People are “predictably irrational” in that they consistently choose actions that are against their best interests and go against conventional economic theory.
    Date: 2022
  5. By: Congdon Fors, Heather (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Isaksson, Ann-Sofie (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Annika, Lindskog (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the long-run impacts of Christian missionary expansion on the practice of female genital cutting (FGC) in sub-Saharan Africa. The empirical analysis draws on historical data on the locations of early European missions geographically matched with Demographic and Health Survey data on FGC practices of around 410, 000 respondents from 42 surveys performed over a 30-year period (1990-2020) in 14 African countries. The results suggest that historical Christian missions have impacted FGC practices today. The benchmark estimates imply that a person living 10 km from a historical mission is 4-6 percentage points less likely to have undergone FGC than someone living 100 km from a mission site. Similarly, having one more mission per 1000 km2 in one’s ancestral ethnic homeland decreases the probability of having undergone FGC by around 8 percentage points. The effect is robust across a large number of specifications and control variables, both modern and historic. We use ethnographic data on pre-colonial FGC to show that the location of missions was not correlated with the practice of FGC in the local population.
    Keywords: Female genital cutting; missions; norms; Africa
    JEL: D71 D91 I15 O55
    Date: 2023–03
  6. By: Humphries, Jane; Schneider, Benjamin
    Abstract: Development economists have long studied the relationship between gender equality and economic growth. More recently, economic historians have taken an overdue interest. We sketch the pathways within the development literature that have been hypothesized as linking equality for women to rising incomes, and the reverse channels–from higher incomes to equality. We describe how the European Marriage Pattern literature applies these mechanisms, and we highlight problems with the claimed link between equality and growth. We then explain how a crucial example of technological unemployment for women–the destruction of hand spinning during the British Industrial Revolution–contributed to the emergence of the male breadwinner family. We show how this family structure created household relationships that play into the development pathways, and outline its persistent effects into the twenty-first century.
    Keywords: development economics; family structure; gender equality; technological unemployment
    JEL: J12 J63 N33 O14 O33
    Date: 2021–11–09

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