nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2017‒01‒01
ten papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. A Review of James Forder, Macroeconomics and the Phillips Curve Myth, Oxford University Press, 2014 By Michel De Vroey
  2. Whither economic complexity? A new heterodox economic paradigm or just another variation within the mainstream? By Heise, Arne
  3. Guilt in voting and public good games By Rothenhäusler, Dominik; Schweizer, Nikolaus; Szech, Nora
  4. Learning in a black box By Heinrich H. Nax; Maxwell N. Burton-Chellew; Stuart A. West; H. Peyton Young
  5. The prevalence of chaotic dynamics in games with many players By James B. T. Sanders; J. Doyne Farmer; Tobias Galla
  6. On the Relationship between Lifestyle and Happiness in the UK By Adelina Gschwandtner; Sarah L. Jewell; Uma Kambhampati
  7. Stochastic learning dynamics and speed of convergence in population games By Itai Arieli; H. Peyton Young
  8. Quantifying music genius, or Handel on the balance: A scale of musical merit from 1776 By Chrissochoidis, Ilias
  9. Wassily Leontief and the discovery of the input-output approach By Bjerkholt, Olav
  10. Value for Money? Vote-Buying and Politician Accountability in the Laboratory By Jessica Leight; Rohini Pande; Laura Ralston

  1. By: Michel De Vroey (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES))
    Abstract: In this review, I argue that Forder makes a fine job in debunking the story told by Friedman in his Nobel prize lecture about the Phillips curve yet fails to assess the validity of Phelps’s and Friedman’s contributions to the Phillips curve theory.
    Keywords: Phillips curve, A.W. Phillips, M. Friedman, E. Phelps
    JEL: B22 B30 E24 E31
    Date: 2016–12–15
  2. By: Heise, Arne
    Abstract: [Introduction] Economics is in considerable disarray. Neoclassical orthodoxy still remains the ‘normal science’ standard procedure and provides the foundation for economic education. However, for some time now many economists have claimed that its scientific research programme as a problem-solving tool has been squeezed out and is no longer at the cutting-edge of research (see e.g. Colander/Holt/Rosser 2004, Holt/Rosser/Colander 2011, Arthur 2013). After the recent global financial crisis, the time seemed right for a scientific overhaul of the whole discipline of economics under the heading of ‘new economic thinking‘, an idea promoted as much by economists unhappy with the state of the discipline as by economics students unwilling to learn something apparently irrelevant for the real world and by economic and business practitioners and patrons who sponsored research that, in the past, few were willing to support financially. It seems obvious that heterodox economics – the part of the scientific community which had been critical of the state of the discipline long before the outbreak of the global financial crisis and which long before had demanded a ‘new economic thinking‘ - could have been seen as a natural candidate for a scientific research programme or paradigm that could assume the spotlight. However, heterodox economics is a blurred description of a scientific paradigm comprising quite different thought collectives and is based on very shaky analytical grounds (see e.g. Mearman 2012). In this contribution, we will take a closer look at a scientific research programme which has often been cited as the one whose time is about to come: complexity economics (see e.g. Buchanan 2004, Colander 2003, Beinhocker 2006, Davis 2008; Roos 2015). Before we attempt to describe the paradigmatic foundations of complexity economics and arrange them in the context of the orthodox/heterodox divide, we need to explain our understanding of the concept of a paradigm and clarify what makes a paradigm orthodox or heterodox and why it is important to classify a paradigm as either orthodox or heterodox. The paper will conclude with a statement about the paradigmatical position of complexity economics and its significance for the future of the economic discipline.
    Date: 2016
  3. By: Rothenhäusler, Dominik; Schweizer, Nikolaus; Szech, Nora
    Abstract: This paper analyzes how moral costs affect individual support of morally difficult group decisions. We study a threshold public good game with moral costs. Motivated by recent empirical findings, we assume that these costs are heterogeneous and consist of three parts. The first one is a standard cost term. The second, shared guilt, decreases in the number of supporters. The third hinges on the notion of being pivotal. We analyze equilibrium predictions, isolate the causal effects of guilt sharing, and compare results to standard utilitarian and non-consequentialist approaches. As interventions, we study information release, feedback, and fostering individual moral standards.
    Keywords: Moral Decision Making,Committee Decisions,Diffusion of Responsibility,Shared Guilt,Being Pivotal,Division of Labor,Institutions and Morals
    JEL: D02 D03 D23 D63 D82
    Date: 2016
  4. By: Heinrich H. Nax; Maxwell N. Burton-Chellew; Stuart A. West; H. Peyton Young
    Abstract: We study behavior in repeated interactions when agents have no information about the structure of the underlying game and they cannot observe other agents’ actions or payoffs. Theory shows that even when players have no such information, there are simple payoff-based learning rules that lead to Nash equilibrium in many types of games. A key feature of these rules is that subjects search differently depending on whether their payoffs increase, stay constant or decrease. This paper analyzes learning behavior in a laboratory setting and finds strong confirmation for these asymmetric search behaviors in the context of voluntary contribution games. By varying the amount of information we show that these behaviors are also present even when subjects have full information about the game.
    Keywords: Learning; Information; Public goods game
    JEL: J1
    Date: 2016–07
  5. By: James B. T. Sanders; J. Doyne Farmer; Tobias Galla
    Abstract: We study adaptive learning in a typical p-player game. The payoffs of the games are randomly generated and then held fixed. The strategies of the players evolve through time as the players learn. The trajectories in the strategy space display a range of qualitatively different behaviors, with attractors that include unique fixed points, multiple fixed points, limit cycles and chaos. In the limit where the game is complicated, in the sense that the players can take many possible actions, we use a generating-functional approach to establish the parameter range in which learning dynamics converge to a stable fixed point. The size of this region goes to zero as the number of players goes to infinity, suggesting that complex non-equilibrium behavior, exemplified by chaos, may be the norm for complicated games with many players.
    Date: 2016–12
  6. By: Adelina Gschwandtner; Sarah L. Jewell; Uma Kambhampati
    Abstract: In the present paper we attempt to analyse the relationship between ‘lifestyle’ and happiness in the UK using fixed effects and granger causality tests to test for endogeneity. We split the analysis by gender and find different effects between women and men. While men seem to be more physically active and this active lifestyle impacts stronger on their wellbeing than on the one of women, women seem to be more conscientious with respect to nutrition and nutrition impacts stronger on the wellbeing of women than on the wellbeing of men. In general lifestyle variables have a significantly positive impact on happiness and the impact remains significant with the use of fixed effects for both genders. This suggests that a ‘healthy lifestyle’ has a positive impact on happiness and that any policy improving our lifestyle proxies would also make people happier in the UK.
    Keywords: Wellbeing; Life Satisfaction; Happiness; Nutrition; Exercise; Lifestyle; Fixed Effects; Granger Causality
    JEL: D31 I31
    Date: 2016–12
  7. By: Itai Arieli; H. Peyton Young
    Abstract: We study how long it takes for large populations of interacting agents to come close to Nash equilibrium when they adapt their behavior using a stochastic better reply dynamic. Prior work considers this question mainly for 2 × 2 games and potential games; here we characterize convergence times for general weakly acyclic games, including coordination games, dominance solvable games, games with strategic complementarities, potential games, and many others with applications in economics, biology, and distributed control. If players' better replies are governed by idiosyncratic shocks, the convergence time can grow exponentially in the population size; moreover, this is true even in games with very simple payoff structures. However, if their responses are sufficiently correlated due to aggregate shocks, the convergence time is greatly accelerated; in fact, it is bounded for all sufficiently large populations. We provide explicit bounds on the speed of convergence as a function of key structural parameters including the number of strategies, the length of the better reply paths, the extent to which players can influence the payoffs of others, and the desired degree of approximation to Nash equilibrium.
    Keywords: Population games; better reply dynamics; convergence time.
    JEL: J1
    Date: 2016–03
  8. By: Chrissochoidis, Ilias
    Abstract: The December 1776 issue of the "Gentleman's Magazine," flagship of British periodicals, features an item unique in the history of 18th-century music: the "Scale to Measure the Merits of Musicians." It comprises an evaluative chart of two-dozen composers, marking the first quantitative assessment of musical skill. This paper explicates the chart's structure and content, traces its methodology to the founder of modern art criticism Roger de Piles, proposes Charles Burney as its likely author, and places it in the context of a rising music historiography in Britain.
    Keywords: Music,quantification,Handel,Roger de Piles
    Date: 2016
  9. By: Bjerkholt, Olav (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)
    Abstract: The paper is about Wassily Leontief’s path towards the discovery of input-output economics, published in the Review of Economic Statistics in 1936 and 1937 and in the 1941 monograph The Structure of American Economy, 1919-1929. The aim has more specifically been to look more closely into how Leontief’s discovery was rooted in earlier career and experience. The paper sets out an account of Leontief’s life from his childhood and youth in St. Petersburg, his study years in Berlin, his research experience at the Institute of World Economics in Kiel, and the circumstances that brought him to the United States in 1931 and to Harvard shortly afterwards.
    Keywords: Leontief; input-output
    JEL: B31 D57
    Date: 2016–12–08
  10. By: Jessica Leight (Williams College); Rohini Pande (Harvard University and NBER); Laura Ralston (World Bank)
    Abstract: Though vote-buying is observed in a diverse set of polities worldwide, relatively little is known about the channels through which it affects subsequent governance outcomes. Using laboratory experiments conducted in the U.S. and Kenya, we show that vote-buying reduces voters' willingness to punish politicians and increases rent-seeking by the incumbent politician. Specifically, we collect data from 816 subjects engaged in a simple voting game in which voters can punish a politician who expropriates rents from a common treasury. Voters who receive "a payment in exchange for your vote" increase the maximum amount they will allow the politician to expropriate while still voting to reelect him. Politicians, in turn, expropriate more when vote-buying is introduced. We provide evidence that social preferences, particularly reciprocity, are an important channel for this response.
    Keywords: Corruption, vote buying, political economy
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2016–05

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