New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2013‒07‒20
three papers chosen by

  1. Institutional Cognitive Economics: some recent developments By Gigante, Anna Azzurra
  2. The Cognitive Effects of Micronutrient Deficiency: Evidence from Salt Iodization in the United States By James Feyrer; Dimitra Politi; David N. Weil
  3. Health Club Attendance, Expectations and Self-Control By Jean-Denis Garon; Alix Masse; Pierre-Carl Michaud

  1. By: Gigante, Anna Azzurra
    Abstract: By investigating the connection between mind working and institutional processes, Institutional Cognitive Economics turns out to be the most appropriate in order to overcome some limits in New Institutional Economics. This leads us to develop further this approach. This paper integrates F. Hayek’s theory on knowledge production and A. Bandura’s social cognitive theory with the fertile contributions coming from Self-Organization approach and cognitive path-dependence, by considering also the recent cognitive acquisitions in D. North’s analysis. Then, it proposes a further development. Learning process is broken into smaller sub-processes, each of them is investigated through new analytical tools coming from cognitive psychology and neurobiology. They are T. Higgins’s extension of social cognitive theory and semantic priming concept. These mechanisms clarify well reinforcement and evolution processes of institutional norms, while their genesis finds a convincing explanation in social representations’ theory, as it was formulated by S. Moscovici, which investigates the imaginative dimension ordering perceived data before they are processed into new knowledge.
    Keywords: cognitive path-dependence; institutions; knowledge activation/use; semantic priming; social cognitive theory; social representation.
    JEL: A12 B25
    Date: 2013–07–15
  2. By: James Feyrer; Dimitra Politi; David N. Weil
    Abstract: Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation in the world today. The condition, which was common in the developed world until the introduction of iodized salt in the 1920s, is connected to low iodine levels in the soil and water. We examine the impact of salt iodization on cognitive outcomes in the US by taking advantage of this natural geographic variation. Salt was iodized over a very short period of time beginning in 1924. We use military data collected during WWI and WWII to compare outcomes of cohorts born before and after iodization, in localities that were naturally poor and rich in iodine. We find that for the one quarter of the population most deficient in iodine this intervention raised IQ by approximately one standard deviation. Our results can explain roughly one decade's worth of the upwardtrend in IQ in the US (the Flynn Effect). We also document a large increase in thyroid related deaths following the countrywide adoption of iodized salt, which affected mostly older individuals in localities with high prevalence of iodine deficiency.
    JEL: I18 I28 J24 N32
    Date: 2013–07
  3. By: Jean-Denis Garon; Alix Masse; Pierre-Carl Michaud
    Abstract: Using a unique dataset on health club attendance from Quebec, we look at the relationship between actual and expected attendance and how these relate to measures of self-control. We find that a large majority of contract choices appear inconsistent if we do not take into account the commitment value of long-term contracts for attendees with self-control problems: 41% of members would be better off paying the fee for a single visit each time they go to the gym rather than signing a long-term contract. We then find that almost all members have made the right decision once we use subjectives expectations on the number of visits per week at the time of contract choice. We estimate that the median total cost is $229 for those making a mistake. Next, we study how actual attendance following contract choice is related to measures of self-control. We find that reports of self-control problems at baseline are associated with low future attendance and that attendance decreases faster, in particular after New Year, for those expressing such problems. Quite interestingly, those expressing self-control problems do not expect at baseline to attend less often. We show that these results are consistent with a model where agents underestimate the severity of their self-control problems and estimate this degree of underestimation.
    Keywords: Self-control, gym attendance, expectations, obesity
    JEL: D00 D12 D91
    Date: 2013

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