nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2023‒06‒19
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The Effect of the Out of Africa Migration on Cultural Diversity By Daniel Crisóstomo Wainstock; Oded Galor; Marc Klemp
  2. Investigating Emergent Goal-Like Behaviour in Large Language Models Using Experimental Economics By Steve Phelps; Yvan I. Russell
  3. Cultural Doorways in the Barriers to Development By Marcello D'Amato; Francesco Flaviano Russo
  4. Beneficence Signaling in AI Development Dynamics By Sarita Rosenstock
  5. Three approaches to institutions in economic analysis: By Sergio Cesaratto
  6. Computing and comparing measures of rationality By Lasse Mononen
  7. Roots of Inequality By Galor, Oded: Klemp, Marc; Wainstock, Daniel C.

  1. By: Daniel Crisóstomo Wainstock; Oded Galor; Marc Klemp
    Abstract: Evidence suggests that the Out of Africa Migration has impacted the degree of intra-population genetic and phenotypic diversity across the globe. This paper provides the first evidence that this migration has shaped cultural diversity. Leveraging a folklore catalogue of 958 oral traditions across the world, we show that ethnic groups further away from East Africa along the migratory routes have lower folkloric diversity. This pattern is consistent with the compression of genetic, phenotypic, and phonemic traits along the Out of Africa migration routes, setting conditions for the emergence and proliferation of differential cultural diversity and economic development across the world.
    Keywords: diversity, Out of Africa, culture
    JEL: Z10 O10
    Date: 2023
  2. By: Steve Phelps; Yvan I. Russell
    Abstract: In this study, we investigate the capacity of large language models (LLMs), specifically GPT-3.5, to operationalise natural language descriptions of cooperative, competitive, altruistic, and self-interested behavior in social dilemmas. Our focus is on the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma, a classic example of a non-zero-sum interaction, but our broader research program encompasses a range of experimental economics scenarios, including the ultimatum game, dictator game, and public goods game. Using a within-subject experimental design, we instantiated LLM-generated agents with various prompts that conveyed different cooperative and competitive stances. We then assessed the agents' level of cooperation in the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma, taking into account their responsiveness to the cooperative or defection actions of their partners. Our results provide evidence that LLMs can translate natural language descriptions of altruism and selfishness into appropriate behaviour to some extent, but exhibit limitations in adapting their behavior based on conditioned reciprocity. The observed pattern of increased cooperation with defectors and decreased cooperation with cooperators highlights potential constraints in the LLM's ability to generalize its knowledge about human behavior in social dilemmas. We call upon the research community to further explore the factors contributing to the emergent behavior of LLM-generated agents in a wider array of social dilemmas, examining the impact of model architecture, training parameters, and various partner strategies on agent behavior. As more advanced LLMs like GPT-4 become available, it is crucial to investigate whether they exhibit similar limitations or are capable of more nuanced cooperative behaviors, ultimately fostering the development of AI systems that better align with human values and social norms.
    Date: 2023–05
  3. By: Marcello D'Amato (University of Naples Suor Orsola Benincasa and CSEF); Francesco Flaviano Russo (Università di Napoli Federico II and CSEF)
    Abstract: We provide a new measure of cultural similarity among ethnic groups and countries, based on orally transmitted narratives. Compared to other measures of phylogenetic distances of the separation time of two ethnic groups, either linguistic, religious or based on the “molecular clock”, our index measures the intensity of cultural exchanges across group pairs in their history, after separation and before the recent great migrations. By the use of this index, a “cultural clock”, we provide further support to the hypothesis that the cultural channel is key to interpret the role of vertically transmitted traits in the account for the deep causes of observed pairwise distances in economic outcomes, at both the ethnic-group and the country level.
    Keywords: Culture; Phylogenetic Distances; Narratives, Comparative Development.
    JEL: J15 Z10
    Date: 2023–05–09
  4. By: Sarita Rosenstock
    Abstract: This paper motivates and develops a framework for understanding how the socio-technical systems surrounding AI development interact with social welfare. It introduces the concept of ``signaling'' from evolutionary game theory and demonstrates how it can enhance existing theory and practice surrounding the evaluation and governance of AI systems.
    Date: 2023–05
  5. By: Sergio Cesaratto
    Abstract: I compare three approaches to economic history and institutions: the classical surplus approach, the Polanyian view, and New Institutional Economics (NIE). In the first institutions are seen in relation to the production and distribution of the social surplus. Research in economic anthropology, archaeology and history has validated the fecundity of this approach. The Polanyian criticism to classical and neoclassical theories is then considered and appreciated, although some severe limitations are envisaged. Most of the paper concentrate upon Douglass North, the NIE most representative author in the field of economic history. Striking of North is the attempt to replicate Marx’s relation between economics and institutions in the context of neoclassical theory. Transaction costs economics revealed a dead end in explaining institutions and the power of predatory élites. Lacking a material anchor such as surplus theory, North’s theory became progressively more elusive and indeterminate. On balance, a surplus-based Marxist-Polanyian approach is the most promising direction although much further work is still necessary to explain the coevolution of the economic and institutional sides of the economy
    Keywords: Institutions, Surplus approach, Karl Polanyi, New Institutional Economics, Douglass North
    JEL: A12 B15 B51 B52 Z13
    Date: 2023–04
  6. By: Lasse Mononen
    Abstract: The rationality of choices is one of the most fundamental assumptions of traditional economic analysis. Yet, substantial evidence has documented that choices often cannot be rationalized by utility maximization. Several measures of rationality have been introduced in the literature to quantify the size of rationality violations. However, it is not clear which of these measures should be used in applications, and many measures are computationally very demanding, which has restricted their widespread use. First, we introduce novel variations of the measures that allow us to establish connections between the different measures. Second, we develop methods to compute the most-used measures of rationality. Exploiting this computational progress, we offer simulation-based comparisons of the accuracy of the measures. These simulations show that a new type of measure that combines the size of rationality violations with the number of rationality violations outperforms other measures. Finally, we offer a method to calculate statistical significance levels for rationality violations.
    Date: 2023–05
  7. By: Galor, Oded: Klemp, Marc; Wainstock, Daniel C.
    Abstract: Why does inequality vary across societies? We advance the hypothesis that in a mar- ket economy, where earning differentials re ect variations in productive traits among individuals, a significant component of the differences in inequality across societies can be attributed to variation in societal interpersonal diversity, shaped by the prehistorical out-of-Africa migration. Exploring the roots of inequality within the US population, we find supporting evidence for our hypothesis: variation in the inequality across groups of individuals originating from different ancestral backgrounds can be traced to the degree of diversity of their ancestral populations. This effect is sizable: a move from the lowest to the highest level of diversity in the sample is associated with an increase in the Gini index from the median to the 75th percentile of the inequality distribution.
    Keywords: Inequality, Diversity, Culture, Out-of-Africa Migration
    JEL: D60 O10 Z10
    Date: 2023

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