nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2010‒08‒21
four papers chosen by
Daniel Houser
George Mason University

  1. Testing for spatial heterogeneity in functional MRI using the multivariate general linear model By Leech, Robert; Leech, Dennis
  2. Is the Just Man a Happy Man? An Empirical Study of the Relationship Between Ethics and Subjective Well-being By Harvey, James S. Jr.
  3. School sector variation on non-cognitive dimensions: are denominational schools different? By Avram, S; Dronkers, Jaap
  4. The Economics of Human Cloning By Gilles Saint Paul

  1. By: Leech, Robert (The Computational, Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory, The Division of Experimental Medicine, Imperial College London); Leech, Dennis (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)
    Abstract: Much current research in functional MRI employs multivariate machine learning approaches (e.g., support vector machines) to detect fine-scale spatial patterns from the temporal fluctuations of the neural signal. The aim of many studies is not classification, however, but investigation of multivariate spatial patterns, which pattern classifiers detect only indirectly. Here we propose a direct statistical measure for the existence of fine-scale spatial patterns (or spatial heterogeneity) applicable for fMRI datasets. We extend the univariate general linear model (typically used in fMRI analysis) to a multivariate case. We demonstrate that contrasting maximum likelihood estimations of different restrictions on this multivariate model can be used to estimate the extent of spatial heterogeneity in fMRI data. Under asymptotic assumptions inference can be made with reference to the X2 distribution. The test statistic is then assessed using simulated timecourses derived from real fMRI data. This demonstrates the utility of the proposed measure of heterogeneity as well as considerations in its application. Measuring spatial heterogeneity in fMRI has important theoretical implications in its own right and has potential uses for better characterising neurological conditions such as stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
    Keywords: wordsNeuroimaging ; Multivariate pattern analysis ; Maximum likelihood estimation ; Seemingly unrelated regression
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Harvey, James S. Jr.
    Abstract: In this paper I consider the question of whether ethical decision-making affects a personâs happiness. Using cross-country data from the World Values Survey, I find that people who agree that it is never justifiable to engage in ethically-questionable behaviors report that they are more satisfied with their life than people who are more tolerant of unethical conduct, even after controlling for other factors known to affect self-reported happiness. The size of the ethics effect is roughly similar to that of a modest increase in income, being married and attending church, while the effect is smaller than that of having poor health or being dissatisfied with oneâs personal finances. These results are robust across the four countries studied (the US, Canada, Mexico and Brazil), although there is variation in the ethics and happiness relationship across countries. One implication of this study is that a consideration of a societyâs ethical norms will improve our understanding of the subjective well-being of people.
    Keywords: Happiness, subjective well-being, ethics, World Values Survey, Labor and Human Capital, D63, D99, Z13,
    Date: 2009–12–02
  3. By: Avram, S; Dronkers, Jaap
    Abstract: Denominational schooling makes up an important part of European educational systems. Given its specificity, denominational schooling can be expected to place a greater weight on values teaching and moral education. As such, it may be more effective in bringing about certain attitudes and opinions. It also may be more successful in creating a warm and caring atmosphere, thus helping students to better emotionally connect to the school community. This paper set out to empirically test some of these hypotheses by making use of three waves of data collected in the framework of the Program for International Student Assessment study. We compare public and publicly supported private (as a proxy to denominational) schools on two dimensions, namely the emotional integration with the rest of the school community, and the concern and feelings of responsibility towards the environment. But for Austria, Belgium and Spain, no evidence could be found that the type of the school has any impact on the reported psychological adaptation to the school. In these three countries, publicly supported private schools tend to be more successful in integrating their students. Also students in public and private dependent schools were equally environment oriented, taking into account several student and school characteristics. The lack of schooling sector differences in attaining non-cognitive aims may have at least three causes. First, ecological issues could be salient enough not to necessitate any special religious or moral reinforcement in order to gain traction. Second, public schools may use religious education or ethics just as fruitfully and consequently, they are just as successful in values and norms transmission. Third, it is possible that schools play a minor role in introducing students to environmental dilemmas and concerns, this role being taken over by the family or the media.
    Keywords: public schools; private schools; non-cognitive; value teaching; psychological integration; PISA data
    JEL: H4 I21 L33
    Date: 2010–01–02
  4. By: Gilles Saint Paul
    Abstract: In this paper, we analyze the extent to which market forces create an incentive for cloning human beings. We show that a market for cloning arises if a large enough fraction of the clone’s income can be appropriated by its model. Only people with the highest ability are cloned, while people at the bottom of the distribution of income specialize in surrogacy. In the short run, cloning reduces inequality. In the long run, it creates a perfectly egalitarian society where all workers have a top ability if fertility is uncorrelated with ability and if the distribution of ability among sexually produced children is the same as among their parents. In such a society, cloning has disappeared. If the distribution of genes, rather than abilities, is preserved by sexual reproduction, then cloning eliminates ability-reducing genes but does not necessarily eliminate inequality; nor does it disappear in the long run. Finally, if fertility is negatively correlated with ability, in the long run a reproductive caste of bottom ability people coexist with a cloned, worker caste of top ability agents, while intermediate ability types have disappeared. [IZA Discussion Paper No. 231]
    Keywords: Human capital, income distribution, human cloning, overlapping generations, intergenerational mobility
    Date: 2010

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