nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2023‒05‒01
six papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Religion and Cooperation across the Globe By Caicedo, Felipe Valencia; Dohmen, Thomas; Pondorfer, Andreas
  2. Economic History and Cliometrics: the Stand of the last Samurai. By Claude Diebolt; Michael Haupert
  3. Prosocial Behavior and the Individual Normative Standard of Fairness within a Dynamic Context: Experimental Evidence By Mekvabishvili, Rati; Mekvabishvili, Elguja; Natsvaladze, Marine; Sirbiladze, Rusudan; Mzhavanadze, Giorgi; Deisadze, Salome
  4. A Cliometric Perspective on Cultural Spread: Roman and Christian Names in Ancient Greece By Laurent Gauthier
  5. Speed of Convergence in a Malthusian World: Weak or Strong Homeostasis? By Arnaud Deseau
  6. Frontier History and Gender Norms in the United States By Samuel Bazzi; Abel Brodeur; Martin Fiszbein; Joanne Haddad

  1. By: Caicedo, Felipe Valencia (University of British Columbia); Dohmen, Thomas (University of Bonn and IZA); Pondorfer, Andreas (Technical University of Munich)
    Abstract: Social science research has stressed the important role of religion in sustaining cooperation among non-kin. We contribute to this literature with a large-scale empirical study documenting the relationship between religion and cooperation. We analyze newly available, experimentally validated, and globally representative data on social preferences and world religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism). We find that individuals who report believing in such religions also exhibit more prosocial preferences, as measured by their levels of positive reciprocity, altruism and trust. We further document heterogeneous patterns of negative reciprocity and punishment—two key elements for cooperation—across world religions. The association between religion and prosocial preferences is stronger in more populous societies and weaker in countries with better institutions. The interactive results between these variables point again towards the substitutability between religious and secular institutions, when it comes to sustaining cooperation.
    Keywords: religion, prosociality, human cooperation, population, institutions
    JEL: D90 P35 Z12
    Date: 2023–03
  2. By: Claude Diebolt; Michael Haupert
    Abstract: The job of an army is to wage war. The ancient samurai warrior and a modern soldier do the same job using different approaches. The job of an economic historian is to tell stories about the past. The old guard of the economic history discipline and the new wave of practitioners, referred to as “cliometricians, ” do the same job in different ways and have at times clashed with one another over these differences. In the same way, the Satsuma Rebellion was a clash between the samurai and the modern army. This is the story of the evolution of economic history, the revolution that sparked a divide, and how the strengths of each party make the discipline stronger. It is told against the backdrop of the Satsuma rebellion, popularized in the film The Last Samurai.
    Keywords: Economic history, cliometrics, history, theory.
    JEL: A1 A2 A32 N01
    Date: 2023
  3. By: Mekvabishvili, Rati; Mekvabishvili, Elguja; Natsvaladze, Marine; Sirbiladze, Rusudan; Mzhavanadze, Giorgi; Deisadze, Salome
    Abstract: In this paper, we present an experimental study of prosocial behavior and individual normative standards of fairness under the novel context of a dynamic dictator game. In addition, we explore the role of informal institutions in shaping individuals’ cooperation within the domain of a public goods game under its direct exposure and in subsequent prosociality beyond its reach in the domain of the dictator game. We find that dictators’ average offers in our study are quite close to the typical results found in other dictator game experiments and they are quite stable over two periods. However, dictators become more selfish after they have had the experience of playing a public goods game with peer punishment. Interestingly, we found that dictators act significantly more selfishly relative to their own declared individual normative standard of fairness. Furthermore, our experiment reveals a large share of antisocial punishment in the public goods game and a peer-to-peer punishment mechanism to be an inefficient tool to promote cooperation, however in an environment that rules out a suitable normative consensus and collective choice.
    Keywords: dictator game; individual normative standard of fairness; dynamics of behavior; spillover; prosociality; public goods game;
    JEL: C73 C92 D02 H41
    Date: 2023–02–04
  4. By: Laurent Gauthier (LED - Laboratoire d'Economie Dionysien - UP8 - Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis)
    Abstract: Explaining culture through contagion mechanics has appealed to some anthropologists, from a theoretical standpoint, and some quantitative sociologists have proposed formal models for this phenomenon. Studying the spread of culture through the lens of epidemiology has a kind of natural appeal, as it seems to intuitively make sense. The dynamics of epidemics, with their sometimes explosive behavior in a pandemic, combined with oscillations or endemic patterns, seem to capture the phase transitions of cultural spread. The particular links between economics and epidemiology were surveyed in Avery et al. (2020): economics can bring new perspectives in epidemiological modeling by endogenizing certain parameters, which can have a significant impact on how contagion dynamics are understood and projected. The research into the endogeneization of important parameters in epidemiological models, however, has been purely concentrated on medical or biological applications. We propose a utility-based model for cultural contagion, which extends the class of so-called SIR models in epidemiology, and apply it first to the spread of Romanity in the ancient Greek world, through the dynamics of Roman names acquisition, and then to the spread of Christianism through Christian names acquisition. The dynamics of the transition from a pure Greek world to a Romanized world, explosive at the outset, appear to have been fundamentally driven by an intense adoption of Romanity, but combined with an equally intense return to traditional Greek traits. The transition from pagan to Christian names, on the other hand, saw less of a reversal effect.
    Keywords: Onomastics, Epidemiology, Game theory, Ancient Greece
    Date: 2023–02–16
  5. By: Arnaud Deseau (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES))
    Abstract: Standard Malthusian models predict that a productivity or population shock modify income per capita in the short run. In the long run, however, population pressures make income per capita gradually come back to its steady state. I investigate the duration of this short-run fluctuation, estimating the speed of convergence of Malthusian economies to their GDP per capita and population steady-states. To do so, I first build and calibrate a Malthusian model capturing explicitly the idea that marriages are postponed (advanced) and fertility potential of couples reduced (augmented) during depressions (expansions). I then also run β-convergence regressions on historical panel data. I find consistent evidence of weak homeostasis, with a half-life of about one century. It implies that early modern data may display high persistence without necessarily rejecting the Malthusian hypothesis.
    Keywords: Convergence, Homeostasis, Malthusian dynamics, Preventive check, Marriage, Fertility, Malthusian model, β -convergence
    JEL: N10 N13 N33 O10 O47
    Date: 2023–03–16
  6. By: Samuel Bazzi; Abel Brodeur; Martin Fiszbein; Joanne Haddad
    Abstract: This paper explores how historical gender roles become entrenched as norms over the long run. In the historical United States, gender roles on the frontier looked starkly different from those in settled areas. Male-biased sex ratios led to higher marriage rates for women and lower for men. Land abundance favored higher fertility. The demands of childcare, compounded with isolation from extended family as well as a lack of social and market infrastructure, constrained female opportunities outside the home. Frontier women were less likely to report “gainful employment, ” but among those who did, relatively more had high-status occupations. Together, these findings integrate contrasting narratives about frontier women—some emphasizing their entrepreneurial independence, others their prevailing domesticity. The distinctive frontier gender roles, in turn, shaped norms over the long run. Counties with greater historical frontier exposure exhibit lower female labor force participation through the 21st century. Time use data suggests this does not come with additional leisure but rather with more household work. These gender inequalities are accompanied by weaker political participation among women. While the historical frontier may have been empowering for some women, its predominant domesticity reinforced inegalitarian gender norms over the long run.
    JEL: J12 J13 J22 N31 N91 O15 P16
    Date: 2023–03

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