nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2023‒11‒20
five papers chosen by
Matthew Baker, City University of New York

  1. Have Preferences Become More Similar Worldwide? By Rainer Kotschy; Uwe Sunde
  2. Network Ecology of Marriage By Tamas David-Barrett
  3. Social Preferences and Redistributive Politics By Ernst Fehr; Thomas Epper; Julien Senn
  4. The Economics of Attention By George Loewenstein; Zachary Wojtowicz
  5. Missing females: how many, where, when, causes and consequences By Enrique Llopis Agelan

  1. By: Rainer Kotschy (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston); Uwe Sunde (LMU Munich)
    Abstract: Recent evidence shows substantial heterogeneity in time, risk, and social preferences across and within populations; yet little is known about the dynamics of preference heterogeneity across generations. We apply a novel identification strategy based on dyadic differences in preferences using representative data for 80, 000 individuals from 76 countries. Our results document that, among more recent birth cohorts, preferences are more similar across countries and gender gaps in preferences are smaller within countries. This decline in preference heterogeneity across cohorts relates to country-specific differences in preference endowments, population composition, and socioeconomic conditions during formative years, and points at global cultural convergence.
    Keywords: cohort effects; patience; willingness to take risks;
    JEL: D01 J10 J11
    Date: 2023–10–23
  2. By: Tamas David-Barrett
    Abstract: The practice of marriage is an understudied phenomenon in behavioural sciences despite being ubiquitous across human cultures. This modelling paper shows that replacing distant direct kin with in-laws increases the interconnectedness of the family social network graph, which allows more cooperative and larger groups. In this framing, marriage can be seen as a social technology that reduces free-riding within collaborative group. This approach offers a solution to the puzzle of why our species has this particular form of regulating mating behaviour, uniquely among pair-bonded animals.
    Date: 2023–08
  3. By: Ernst Fehr (Department of Economics, Zurich University. Blümlisalpstrasse 10, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland); Thomas Epper (IESEG School of Management, Univ. Lille, CNRS, UMR 9221- LEM - Lille Economie Management F-59000 Lille, France); Julien Senn (Department of Economics, Zurich University. Blûmlisalpstrasse 10, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland)
    Abstract: Increasing inequality and associated egalitarian sentiments have put redistribution on the political agenda. In this paper, we take advantage of Swiss direct democracy, where people voted several times on strongly redistributive policies in national plebiscites, to study the link between social preferences and a behaviorally validated measure of support for redistribution in a broad sample of the Swiss population. Using a novel nonparametric Bayesian clustering algorithm, we uncover the existence of three fundamentally distinct preference types in the population: predominantly selfish, inequality averse and altruistic individuals. We show that inequality averse and altruistic individuals display a much stronger support for redistribution, particularly if they are more affluent. In addition, we show that previously identified key motives underlying opposition to redistribution – such as the belief that effort is an important driver of individual success – play no role for selfish individuals but are highly relevant for other-regarding individuals. Finally, while inequality averse individuals display strong support for policies that primarily aim to reduce the incomes of the rich, altruistic individuals are considerably less supportive of these policies. Thus, knowledge about the qualitative properties of social preferences and their distribution in the population also provides insights into which preference type supports specific redistributive policies, which has implications for how policy makers may design redistributive packages to maximize political support for them.
    Keywords: Social Preferences, Altruism, Inequality Aversion, Preference Heterogeneity, Demand for Redistribution
    JEL: D31 D72 H23 H24
    Date: 2023–10
  4. By: George Loewenstein; Zachary Wojtowicz
    Abstract: Attention is a pivotal resource in the modern economy and plays an increasingly prominent role in economic analysis. We summarize research on attention from both psychology and economics, placing a particular emphasis on its capacity to explain numerous documented violations of classical economic theory. We also propose promising new directions for future research, including attention-based utility, the recent proliferation of attentional externalities introduced by digital technology, the potential for artificial intelligence to compete with human attention, and the significant role that boredom, curiosity, and other motivational states play in determining how people allocate attention.
    Keywords: attention, motivation, behavioural bias, information, learning, education, artificial intelligence, machine learning, future of work
    JEL: D83 D90 D91 I00
    Date: 2023
  5. By: Enrique Llopis Agelan (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain)
    Abstract: The objective of this essay is to explore the present and future figures, geographic distribution, underlying causes, and consequences of the missing females phenomenon. Leveraging data on fertility and sex ratios of international organizations (the United Nations and the World Bank) and employing an analysis of secondary sources, this study draws the following key conclusions: 1) The global number of missing women equaled or exceeded 100 million by 1990 and has continued to rise since then, projected to reach 150 million by 2035; 2) China and India together account for more than 80% of the global missing females; 3) The prevalence of selective abortions of female fetuses surged in societies marked by rigid patrilineal and patrilocal traditions after a decline in fertility rates and the proliferation of ultrasound technology, thereby leading to a reduction in the number of postnatal sex-selective individuals; 4) Eastern Asia has experienced a demographic dividend, yet its economic growth has been hampered in the past decade due to the relative expansion of the dependent population; 5) Skewed sex ratios, that are anticipated to persist, have resulted in a masculinization of the adult population, with a lag of approximately one and a half decades, causing disruptions in the marriage market. This poses a significant threat to social stability in several countries, particularly in China.
    Keywords: China, India, fertility, female feticide, excess female mortality, demographic dividend
    JEL: N3 J1
    Date: 2023–11

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