nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2023‒04‒24
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. (De facto) Historical Ethnic Borders and Contemporary Conflict in Africa By Emilio Depetris-Chauvin; Ömer Özak
  2. (De facto) Historical Ethnic Borders and Land Tenure in Sub-Saharan Africa By Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio; Özak, Ömer
  3. Believing, belonging and understanding : religion and philosophy as narratives and practice in Adam Smith By Jimena Hurtado
  4. Measuring resilience to major life events By Etilé, Fabrice; Frijters, Paul; Johnston, David W.; Shields, Michael A.
  5. Hunter-gatherer Population Expansion and Intensification: Malthusian and Boserupian Dynamics By Freeman, Jacob; Mauldin, Raymond P.; Hard, Robert J.; Solis, Kristina; Whisenhunt, Mary; Anderies, John M.
  6. Using Genes to Explore the Effects of Cognitive and Non-cognitive Skills on Education and Labor Market Outcomes By Thomas Buser; Rafael Ahlskog; Magnus Johannesson; Philipp Koellinger; Sven Oskarsson
  7. How Does Unethical Behavior Spread? Gender Matters! By Kim L. Böhm; Sebastian J. Goerg; Lilia Wasserka-Zhurakhovska; Lilia Zhurakhovska

  1. By: Emilio Depetris-Chauvin (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile); Ömer Özak (Southern Methodist University)
    Abstract: We explore the effect of historical ethnic borders on contemporary conflict in Africa. We document that both the intensive and extensive margins of contemporary conflict are higher close to historical ethnic borders. Exploiting variations across artificial regions within an ethnicity’s historical homeland and a theory-based instrumental variable approach, we find that regions crossed by historical ethnic borders have 27 percentage points higher probability of conflict and 7.9 percentage points higher probability of being the initial location of a conflict. We uncover several key underlying mechanisms: competition for agricultural land, population pressure, cultural similarity, and weak property rights.
    Keywords: Borders, Conflict, Intra-State Conflict, Ethnic Borders, Non-Civil Conflict, Ethnic Conflict, Territory, Property Rights, Landownership, Population Pressure, Migration, Historical Homelands, Development, Africa, Economic Development, Economic Growth, Voronoi Diagram, Voronoi Tesselation, Thiessen Tesselation
    JEL: D74 N57 O13 O17 O43 P48 Q15 Q34
    Date: 2023–02
  2. By: Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio; Özak, Ömer
    Abstract: We study the role of proximity to historical ethnic borders in determining individual land ownership in Sub-Saharan Africa. Following an instrumental variable strategy, we document that individuals have a lower likelihood of owning land near historical ethnic borders. In particular, the likelihood of owning land decreases by 15 percentage points, i.e., about 1/3 of the mean rate of landownership, for rural migrants who move from 57km (90th percentile) to 2 km (10th percentile) from the border. This result aligns with the view that competition for land is stronger and property rights are weaker close to historical ethnic borders in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    Keywords: Land ownership, Borders, Property Rights, Historical Homelands, Development, Africa, Voronoi Tessellation, Thiessen Tessellation
    JEL: D74 N57 O13 O17 O43 P48 Q15 Q34
    Date: 2023
  3. By: Jimena Hurtado
    Abstract: Adam Smith included understanding and belonging among basic human needs. Humans have spiritual and material needs that they can satisfy through coordination and cooperation, both need communication. Religion and philosophy emerge when people communicate the explanations they have of their surroundings and their interactions. They represent shared beliefs and inform behavior that allow people to understand and belong. Religion and philosophy, provide tranquility of mind and satisfy the desire to be loved and loveable.
    Keywords: Adam Smith, Religion, Philosophy, Beliefs, Communities.
    JEL: A13 B12 B31
    Date: 2023–03–22
  4. By: Etilé, Fabrice; Frijters, Paul; Johnston, David W.; Shields, Michael A.
    Abstract: There is great interest in understanding who in the population is resilient in the face of major life events, and who is not. In this paper we construct a revealed measure of adulthood psychological resilience by modelling individuals’ responses to ten adverse life events using a dynamic finite mixture regression model applied to 17 years of panel data. Our methodology accounts for non-random selection into events, and differences between individuals in anticipation, immediate response, and speed of adaptation. We find considerable heterogeneity in individuals’ responses to events such as major financial shocks, redundancy and bereavement. We also find that our measure of resilience is correlated with clinical measures of mental health, and that it significantly predicts the psychological response to out-of-sample events. The strongest predictor of our measure of resilience is internal locus of control, which is an individual's belief that life outcomes are under their control.
    Keywords: major life events; mixture model; panel data; psychological health; resilience
    JEL: I10 C20 C50
    Date: 2021–11–01
  5. By: Freeman, Jacob; Mauldin, Raymond P.; Hard, Robert J.; Solis, Kristina; Whisenhunt, Mary; Anderies, John M.
    Abstract: Despite years of debate, the factors that control the long-term carrying capacity of human populations are not well understood. In this paper, we assess the effect of changes in resource extraction and climate driven changes in ecosystem productivity on the carrying capacity of hunter-gatherer populations in a terrestrial and coastal ecosystem. To make this assessment, we build time-series estimates of changes in resource extraction via human stable isotopes and ecosystem productivity via paleoclimate models and geomorphic records of flood events. These estimates of resource extraction and ecosystem productivity allow us to assess a complex model of population expansion that proposes linked changes between population density, resource extraction, and intensification. We find that changes in resource extraction had a larger effect on carrying capacity in both the terrestrial and coastal ecosystems than climate drivers of ecosystem productivity. Our results are consistent with the idea that both Malthusian limits on resources and Boserupian pressures to reorganize economic systems operate in hunter-gatherer populations over the long-term. Our data and analysis contribute to evaluating complex models of population growth and subsistence change across archaeological cases.
    Date: 2023–03–18
  6. By: Thomas Buser (University of Amsterdam, Tinbergen Institute); Rafael Ahlskog (Department of Government, Uppsala University); Magnus Johannesson (Stockholm School of Economics); Philipp Koellinger (La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin Madison); Sven Oskarsson (Department of Government, Uppsala University)
    Abstract: A large literature establishes that cognitive and non-cognitive skills are strongly correlated with educational attainment and professional achievement. Isolating the causal effects of these traits on career outcomes is made difficult by reverse causality and selection issues. We suggest a different approach: instead of using direct measures of individual traits, we use differences between individuals in the presence of genetic variants that are associated with differences in skills and personality traits. Genes are fixed over the life cycle and genetic differences between full siblings are random, making it possible to establish the causal effects of within-family genetic variation. We link genetic data from individuals in the Swedish Twin Registry to government registry data and find evidence for causal effects of genetic differences linked to cognitive skills, personality traits, and economic preferences on professional achievement and educational attainment. Our results also demonstrate that education and labor market outcomes are partially the result of a genetic lottery
    Keywords: personality traits, economic preferences, cognitive skills, labor markets, education, polygenic indices
    JEL: I26 J24 D91
    Date: 2021–10–07
  7. By: Kim L. Böhm; Sebastian J. Goerg; Lilia Wasserka-Zhurakhovska; Lilia Zhurakhovska
    Abstract: Using an online experiment with two distinct dishonesty games, we analyze how dishonesty in men and women is influenced by either thinking or learning about the dishonesty of others in a related, but different situation. Thinking is induced by eliciting a belief about others’ dishonesty in a different game. We find that such belief elicitation (1) increases males’ (but not females’) dishonesty and (2) has no influence on participants’ beliefs about the dishonesty of others in the game that they themselves play. Learning is induced by receiving a signal about the actual honest or dishonest choices of others in a different game. We find that the level of unethical behavior provided in such a signal (1) increases females’ (but not males’) dishonesty and (2) is positively correlated with participants’ beliefs about the dishonesty of others in the game that they themselves play. We conclude that gender matters when examining how unethical behavior spreads. Both genders update their beliefs about others’ dishonesty in the same way when presented with information about others’ choices, but dishonesty in men is triggered by merely thinking about others’ dishonesty, while women only respond to actual information on others’ dishonesty.
    Keywords: dishonesty, unethical behaviour, thinking and learning about other’s dishonesty, gender, experiment
    JEL: C90 D01 D80 D91
    Date: 2023

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.