nhaliday + outcome-risk + pdf   18

Climate Risk, Cooperation, and the Co-Evolution of Culture and Institutions∗
We test this hypothesis for Europe combining high-resolution climate data for the period 1500-2000 with survey data at the sub-national level. We find that regions with higher inter-annual variability in precipitation and temperature display higher levels of trust. This effect is driven by variability in the growing season months, and by historical rather than recent variability. Regarding possible mechanisms, we show that regions with more variable climate were more closely connected to the Medieval trade network, indicating a higher propensity to engage in inter-community exchange. We also find that these regions were more likely to adopt participatory political institutions earlier on, and are characterized by a higher quality of local governments still today. Our results suggest that, by favoring the emergence of mutually-reinforcing norms and institutions, exposure to environmental risk had a long-lasting impact on human cooperation.
pdf  study  broad-econ  economics  cliometrics  path-dependence  growth-econ  political-econ  institutions  government  social-norms  culture  cultural-dynamics  correlation  history  early-modern  mostly-modern  values  poll  trust  n-factor  cooperate-defect  cohesion  democracy  environment  europe  the-great-west-whale  geography  trade  network-structure  general-survey  outcome-risk  uncertainty  branches  microfoundations  hari-seldon 
november 2017 by nhaliday
Global Evidence on Economic Preferences
- Benjamin Enke et al

This paper studies the global variation in economic preferences. For this purpose, we present the Global Preference Survey (GPS), an experimentally validated survey dataset of time preference, risk preference, positive and negative reciprocity, altruism, and trust from 80,000 individuals in 76 countries. The data reveal substantial heterogeneity in preferences across countries, but even larger within-country heterogeneity. Across individuals, preferences vary with age, gender, and cognitive ability, yet these relationships appear partly country specific. At the country level, the data reveal correlations between preferences and bio-geographic and cultural variables such as agricultural suitability, language structure, and religion. Variation in preferences is also correlated with economic outcomes and behaviors. Within countries and subnational regions, preferences are linked to individual savings decisions, labor market choices, and prosocial behaviors. Across countries, preferences vary with aggregate outcomes ranging from per capita income, to entrepreneurial activities, to the frequency of armed conflicts.


This paper explores these questions by making use of the core features of the GPS: (i) coverage of 76 countries that represent approximately 90 percent of the world population; (ii) representative population samples within each country for a total of 80,000 respondents, (iii) measures designed to capture time preference, risk preference, altruism, positive reciprocity, negative reciprocity, and trust, based on an ex ante experimental validation procedure (Falk et al., 2016) as well as pre-tests in culturally heterogeneous countries, (iv) standardized elicitation and translation techniques through the pre-existing infrastructure of a global polling institute, Gallup. Upon publication, the data will be made publicly available online. The data on individual preferences are complemented by a comprehensive set of covariates provided by the Gallup World Poll 2012.


The GPS preference measures are based on twelve survey items, which were selected in an initial survey validation study (see Falk et al., 2016, for details). The validation procedure involved conducting multiple incentivized choice experiments for each preference, and testing the relative abilities of a wide range of different question wordings and formats to predict behavior in these choice experiments. The particular items used to construct the GPS preference measures were selected based on optimal performance out of menus of alternative items (for details see Falk et al., 2016). Experiments provide a valuable benchmark for selecting survey items, because they can approximate the ideal choice situations, specified in economic theory, in which individuals make choices in controlled decision contexts. Experimental measures are very costly, however, to implement in a globally representative sample, whereas survey measures are much less costly.⁴ Selecting survey measures that can stand in for incentivized revealed preference measures leverages the strengths of both approaches.

The Preference Survey Module: A Validated Instrument for Measuring Risk, Time, and Social Preferences: http://ftp.iza.org/dp9674.pdf

Table 1: Survey items of the GPS

Figure 1: World maps of patience, risk taking, and positive reciprocity.
Figure 2: World maps of negative reciprocity, altruism, and trust.

Figure 3: Gender coefficients by country. For each country, we regress the respective preference on gender, age and its square, and subjective math skills, and plot the resulting gender coefficients as well as their significance level. In order to make countries comparable, each preference was standardized (z-scores) within each country before computing the coefficients.

Figure 4: Cognitive ability coefficients by country. For each country, we regress the respective preference on gender, age and its square, and subjective math skills, and plot the resulting coefficients on subjective math skills as well as their significance level. In order to make countries comparable, each preference was standardized (z-scores) within each country before computing the coefficients.

Figure 5: Age profiles by OECD membership.

Table 6: Pairwise correlations between preferences and geographic and cultural variables

Figure 10: Distribution of preferences at individual level.
Figure 11: Distribution of preferences at country level.

interesting digression:
D Discussion of Measurement Error and Within- versus Between-Country Variation
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october 2017 by nhaliday
Does Management Matter? Evidence from India
We have shown that management matters, with improvements in management practices improving plant-level outcomes. One response from economists might then be to argue that poor management can at most be a short-run problem, since in the long run better managed firms should take over the market. Yet many of our firms have been in business for 20 years and more.

One reason why better run firms do not dominate the market is constraints on growth derived from limited managerial span of control. In every firm in our sample only members of the owning family have positions with major decision-making power over finance, purchasing, operations or employment. Non-family members are given only lower-level managerial positions with authority only over basic day-to-day activities. The principal reason is that family members do not trust non-family members. For example, they are concerned if they let their plant managers procure yarn they may do so at inflated rates from friends and receive kick-backs.

A key reason for this inability to decentralize is the poor rule of law in India. Even if directors found managers stealing, their ability to successfully prosecute them and recover the assets is minimal because of the inefficiency of Indian civil courts. A compounding reason for the inability to decentralize in Indian firms is bad management practices, as this means the owners cannot keep good track of materials and finance, so may not even able to identify mismanagement or theft within their firms.30

As a result of this inability to delegate, firms can expand beyond the size that can be managed by a single director only if other family members are available to share directorial duties. Thus, an important predictor of firm size was the number of male family members of the owners. In particular, the number of brothers and sons of the leading director has a correlation of 0.689 with the total employment of the firm, compared to a correlation between employment and the average management score of 0.223. In fact the best managed firm in our sample had only one (large) production plant, in large part because the owner had no brothers or sons to help run a larger organization. This matches the ideas of the Lucas (1978) span of control model, that there are diminishing returns to how much additional productivity better management technology can generate from a single manager. In the Lucas model, the limits to firm growth restrict the ability of highly productive firms to drive lower productivity ones from the market. In our Indian firms, this span of control restriction is definitely binding, so unproductive firms are able to survive because more productive firms cannot expand.


However, when we reverse the employment statistic–only ~15% of Indians work for a firm compared to approximately 90% of US workers we see the problem. Entrepreneurship in India isn’t a choice, it’s a requirement. Indian entrepreneurship is a consequence of India’s failed economy. As a I wrote in my Cato paper with Goldschlag, less developed countries in general, not just India, have more entrepreneurs.


The modal size of an Indian firm is 1 employee and the mean is just over 2. The mean number of employees in a US firm is closer to 20 but even though that is ten times the Indian number it obscures the real difference. The US has many small firms but what makes it different is that it also has large firms that employ lots of people. In fact, over half of all US workers are employed by the tiny minority (0.3%) of firms with over 500 employees.

blames colonialism, idk, might have contributed

2019 survey paper:
Caste and the Indian Economy: https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jel.20171307

Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service: Evidence from India: https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/pol.20150029
Students in India who cheat on a simple laboratory task are more likely to prefer public sector jobs. This paper shows that cheating on this task predicts corrupt behavior by civil servants, implying that it is a meaningful predictor of future corruption. Students who demonstrate pro-social preferences are less likely to prefer government jobs, while outcomes on an explicit game and attitudinal measures to measure corruption do not systematically predict job preferences. _A screening process that chooses high-ability applicants would not alter the average propensity for corruption._ The findings imply that differential selection into government may contribute, in part, to corruption.

Where Does the Good Shepherd Go? Civic Virtue and Sorting into Public Sector Employment: http://repec.business.uzh.ch/RePEc/iso/leadinghouse/0134_lhwpaper.pdf
Our study extends the understanding of the motivational basis of public sector employment by considering civic virtue in addition to altruism and risk aversion and by investigating selection and socialization. Using a largely representative, longitudinal data set of employees in Germany including 63,101 observations of 13,673 different individuals, we find that civic virtue relates positively to public sector employment beyond altruism and risk aversion. We find evidence on selection and no evidence on socialization as an explanation for this result.

Sadly, this is not a book about some small, shady corner of Indian politics: 34% of the members of parliament (MPs) in the Lok Sabha (lower house) have criminal charges filed against them; and the figure is rising (see chart). Some of the raps are peccadillos, such as rioting or unlawful assembly—par for the course in India’s raucous local politics. But over a fifth of MPs are in the dock for serious crimes, often facing reams of charges for anything from theft to intimidation and worse. (Because the Indian judicial system has a backlog of 31m cases, even serious crimes can take a decade or more to try, so few politicians have been convicted.) One can walk just about the whole way from Mumbai to Kolkata without stepping foot outside a constituency whose MP isn’t facing a charge.


What is more surprising is that the supply of willing criminals-cum-politicians was met with eager demand from voters. Over the past three general elections, a candidate with a rap sheet of serious charges has had an 18% chance of winning his or her race, compared with 6% for a “clean” rival. Mr Vaishnav dispels the conventional wisdom that crooks win because they can get voters to focus on caste or some other sectarian allegiance, thus overlooking their criminality. If anything, the more serious the charge, the bigger the electoral boost, as politicians well know.

As so often happens in India, poverty plays a part. India is almost unique in having adopted universal suffrage while it was still very poor. The upshot has been that underdeveloped institutions fail to deliver what citizens vote for. Getting the state to perform its most basic functions—building a school, disbursing a subsidy, repaving a road—is a job that can require banging a few heads together. Sometimes literally. Who better to represent needy constituents in these tricky situations than someone who “knows how to get things done”? If the system doesn’t work for you, a thuggish MP can be a powerful ally.

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july 2017 by nhaliday
Rheumatoid Arthritis | West Hunter
It causes characteristic changes in the bones.  Key point:  it is vanishingly rare in Old World skeletons before the 17th century.  Those changes, however, been seen in some pre-Columbian Amerindian skeletons [work by Bruce Rothschild].

The obvious explanation is that RA is caused by some pathogen that originated in the Americas and later spread to the rest of the world.  Like the French disease.

Everybody knows that the Amerindians were devastated by new infectious diseases after Columbus discovered America and made it stick. Smallpox, falciparum malaria, yellow fever, bubonic plague, cholera, measles, whooping cough, etc : by some estimates, the Amerindian population dropped by about 90%, worse than the Black Plague, which only killed off half of Europe. Naturally, you wonder what ailments the Americas exported to the rest of the world.

We know of two for sure. First, syphilis: the first known epidemic was in 1495, in Naples, during a French invasion. By 1520 it had reached Africa and China.

From the timing of the first epidemic, and the apparent newness of the disease, many have suspected that it was an import from the New World. Some, like Bartolome de las Casas, had direct knowledge: Las Casas was in Seville in 1493, his father and uncle sailed with Columbus on the second voyage, and he himself traveled to the New World in 1502, where he spent most of the rest of his life working with the Amerindians. Ruiz Diaz de Isla, a Spanish physician, reported treating some of Columbus’s crew for syphilis, and that he had observed its rapid spread in Barcelona.

I have seen someone object to this scenario, on the grounds that the two years after Columbus’s return surely couldn’t have been long enough to generate a major outbreak. I think maybe that guy doesn’t get out much. It has always looked plausible, considering paleopathological evidence (bone changes) and the timing of the first epidemic. Recent analysis shows that some American strains of pinta (a treponemal skin disease) are genetically closest to the venereal strains. I’d say the Colombian theory is pretty well established, at this point.

Interestingly, before the genetic evidence, this was one of the longest-running disputes among historians. As far as I can tell, part of the problem was (and is) that many in the social sciences routinely apply Ockham’s razor in reverse. Simple explanations are bad, even when they fit all the facts. You see this in medicine, too.


There are two other diseases that are suspected of originating in the Americas. The first is typhus, gaol fever, caused by a Rickettsial organism and usually spread by lice. Sometimes it recurs after many years, in a mild form called Brill’s disease, rather like chickenpox and shingles. This means that typhus is always waiting in the wings: if the world gets sufficiently messed up, it will reappear.

Typhus shows up most often in war, usually in cool countries. There is a claim that there was a clear epidemic in Granada in 1489, which would definitely predate Columbus, but descriptions of disease symptoms by premodern physicians are amazingly unreliable. The first really reliable description seems to have been by Fracastoro, in 1546 (according to Hans Zinsser in Rats, Lice, and History). The key hint is the existence of a very closely related organism in American flying squirrels.

Thinking about it, I have the impression that the legions of the Roman Republic didn’t have high casualties due to infectious disease, while that was the dominant cause of death in more recent European armies, up until the 20tth century. If smallpox, measles, syphilis, bubonic plague, perhaps typhus, simply hadn’t arrived yet, this makes sense. Falciparum malaria wasn’t much of a factor in northern Italy until Imperial times…

The second possibly American disease is rheumatoid arthritis. We don’t even know that it has an infectious cause – but we do know that it causes characteristic skeletal changes, and that no clear-cut pre-Columbian rheumatoid skeletons are known from the Old World, while a number have been found in the lower South. To me, this makes some infectious cause seem likely: it would very much be worth following this up with the latest molecular genetic methods.

American crops like maize and potatoes more than canceled the demographic impact of syphilis and typhus. But although the Old World produced more dangerous pathogens than the Americas, due to size, longer time depth of agriculture, and more domesticated animals, luck played a role, too. Something as virulent as smallpox or falciparum malaria could have existed in the Americas, and if it had, Europe would have been devastated.

Malaria came from Africa, probably. There are old primate versions. Smallpox, dunno: I have heard people suggest viral infections of cows and monkeys as ancestral. Measles is derived from rinderpest, probably less than two thousand years ago.

Falciparum malaria has been around for a while, but wasn’t found near Rome during the Republic. It seems to have gradually moved north in Italy during classical times, maybe because the range of the key mosquito species was increasing. By early medieval times it was a big problem around Rome.

Smallpox probably did not exist in classical Greece: there is no clear description in the literature of the time. It may have arrived in the Greco-Roman world in 165 AD, as the Antonine plague.

The Pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis: http://sci-hub.tw/http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1004965

In the Age of Discovery, Europeans were playing with fire. Every voyage of exploration risked bring back some new plague. From the New World, syphilis, probably typhus and rheumatoid arthritis. From India, cholera. HIV, recently, from Africa. Comparably important new pests attacking important crops and domesticated animals also arrived, such as grape phylloxera (which wiped out most of the vineyards of Europe) and potato blight ( an oomycete or ‘water mold’, from central Mexico).

If one of those plagues had been as potent as smallpox or falciparum malaria, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Growing Collectivism: Irrigation, Group Conformity and Technological Divergence
This paper examines the origins of collectivist cultures that emphasize group conformity over individual autonomy. In line with the hypothesis that collaboration within groups in pre-industrial agriculture favored the emergence of collectivism, I find that societies whose ancestors jointly practiced irrigation agriculture have stronger collectivist norms today. The positive effect of irrigation on contemporary collectivism holds across countries, subnational districts within countries, and migrants. For causal identification, I instrument the historical adoption of irrigation by its geographic suitability. Furthermore, this paper establishes that, by favoring conformity, irrigation agriculture has contributed to the global divergence of technology. I document (i) a negative effect of traditional irrigation agriculture on contemporary innovativeness of countries, cities, and migrants; (ii) a positive effect on selection into routine-intensive occupations; and (iii) that the initial technological advantage of irrigation societies was reversed after 1500.

This kind of investigation is always going to be fraught with uncertainty and also controversy, given imperfections of data and methods. Nonetheless I find this one of the more plausible macro-historical hypotheses, perhaps because of my own experience in central Mexico, where varying rainfall still is the most important economic event of the year, though it is rapidly being supplanted by the variability of tourist demand for arts and crafts. And yes, they are largely collectivist, at least at the clan level, with extensive systems of informal social insurance and very high implicit social marginal tax rates on accumulated wealth.

Have you noticed it rains a lot in England?


in-depth reflection on agricultural ecologies, Europe vs China, and internal Chinese differences/ethnic identity/relations with barbarians/nomads, etc.: https://www.gnxp.com/blog/2008/08/wealth-of-communities.php

Irrigation and Autocracy: http://www.econ.ku.dk/bentzen/Irrigation_and_Autocracy.pdf

Emerging evidence of cultural differences linked to rice versus wheat agriculture: https://sci-hub.tw/https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352250X1930082X
- Historical rice farming linked to interdependent culture.
- Differences tested in China and Japan, as well as in worldwide comparison.
- There is evidence for differences among urbanites with no direct experience farming.
- Rice farming is also linked to holistic thought, fewer patents for inventions.
- Rice cultures are not ‘pro-social’ but rather tight ties, strong division of close versus distant ties.

The agricultural roots of Chinese innovation performance: https://sci-hub.tw/https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014292119300893
We provide robust evidence that counties with a legacy of rice cultivation generate fewer patent applications than other counties, and a legacy of wheat production tends to be associated with more patent applications. The results for rice are robust to, e.g., controlling for temperature, precipitation, irrigation, disease burden, religiosity, and corruption, as well as accounting for migration patterns.

Steve Hsu on this stuff:
Genetic variation in Han Chinese population: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2017/07/genetic-variation-in-han-chinese.html
Largest component of genetic variation is a N-S cline (phenotypic N-S gradient discussed here). Variance accounted for by second (E-W) PC vector is much smaller and the Han population is fairly homogeneous in genetic terms: ...while we revealed East-to-West structure among the Han Chinese, the signal is relatively weak and very little structure is discernible beyond the second PC (p.24).

Neandertal ancestry does not vary significantly across provinces, consistent with admixture prior to the dispersal of modern Han Chinese.

My fellow officers informed me, that while the negotiation was going on, the ships were constantly crowded with all kinds of refreshments, and that when they were first boarded by the Chinese they received every attention from them that could be shown; and that the presents received by the different officers belonging to the embassy, were of immense value. That the natives of this part of China were of different complexions and manners from those in and near Canton; their colour being nearly white; and in their manners were much more free and candid; and that they were of a larger stature, and more athletic than the southern Chinese—they were much more sociable, and not so particular respecting their women being seen by the men. And were even fond of receiving the officers into their houses, when on shore, provided it could be done without the knowledge of the mandarins.

The study below discusses a psychological/cognitive/personality gradient between N and S China, possibly driven by a history of wheat vs rice cultivation.


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may 2017 by nhaliday
Say a little prior for me: more on climate change - Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
We have only one planet. This fact radically constrains the kinds of risks that are appropriate to take at a large scale. Even a risk with a very low probability becomes unacceptable when it affects all of us – there is no reversing mistakes of that magnitude.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Genetic polymorphisms predict national differences in life history strategy and time orientation
A number of recent studies suggest that some polymorphisms in the androgen receptor gene AR, the dopamine receptor gene DRD4, and the 5-HTTLPR VNTR of the serotonin transporter gene are associated with risk acceptance versus prudence and a short-term versus long-term time orientation, which are important aspects of LHS. We integrated studies from diverse nations reporting the prevalence of these three polymorphisms for many countries. We collected national indices for each of the three polymorphisms and found that they define a strong, single factor, yielding a single LHS-related, national genetic index. As expected, this index is strongly associated with reported national measures of LHS and time orientation, even after controlling for socioeconomic variables. The genetic effect seems especially strong across societies with high socioeconomic inequality.

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march 2017 by nhaliday
What Drives Firm-Level Stock Returns?
I use a vector autoregressive model (VAR) to decompose an individual firm's stock return into two components: changes in cash-flow expectations (i.e., cash-flow news) and changes in discount rates (i.e., expected-return news). The VAR yields three main results. First, firm-level stock returns are mainly driven by cash-flow news. For a typical stock, the variance of cash-flow news is more than twice that of expected-return news. Second, shocks to expected returns and cash flows are positively correlated for a typical small stock. Third, expected-return-news series are highly correlated across firms, while cash-flow news can largely be diversified away in aggregate portfolios.
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december 2016 by nhaliday
The Uniqueness of Italian Internal Divergence | Notes On Liberty
Measuring Productivity Dispersion: Lessons From Counting One-Hundred Million Ballots: http://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12273
We measure output per worker in nearly 8,000 municipalities in the Italian electoral process using ballot counting times in the 2013 general election and two referenda in 2016. We document large productivity dispersion across provinces in this very uniform and low-skill task that involves nearly no technology and requires limited physical capital. Using a development accounting framework, this measure explains up to half of the firm-level productivity dispersion across Italian provinces and more than half the north-south productivity gap in Italy. We explore potential drivers of our measure of labor efficiency and find that its association with measures of work ethic and trust is particularly robust.

Interregional Migration, Human Capital Externalities and Unemployment Dynamics: Evidence from Italian Provinces: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/168560/1/Econstor.pdf
Using longitudinal data over the years 2002-2011 for 103 NUTS-3 Italian regions, we document that net outflows of human capital from the South to the North have increased the unemployment rate in the South, while it did not affect the unemployment rate in the North. Our analysis contributes to the literature on interregional human capital mobility suggesting that reducing human capital flight from Southern regions should be a priority

EXPLAINING ITALY’S NORTH-SOUTH DIVIDE: Experimental evidence of large differences in social norms of cooperation: http://www.res.org.uk/details/mediabrief/9633311/EXPLAINING-ITALYS-NORTH-SOUTH-DIVIDE-Experimental-evidence-of-large-differences-.html
Amoral Familism, Social Capital, or Trust? The Behavioural Foundations of the Italian North-South Divide: http://conference.iza.org/conference_files/CognitiveSkills_2014/casari_m8572.pdf

At the root of the North‐South cooperation gap in Italy Preferences or beliefs?: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ecoj.12608
Southerners share the same pro‐social preferences, but differ both in their belief about cooperativeness and in the aversion to social risk ‐ respectively more pessimistic and stronger among Southerners.

Past dominations, current institutions and the Italian regional economic performance: http://www.siecon.org/online/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/DiLiberto-Sideri.pdf
We study the connection between economic performance and the quality of government institutions for the sample of 103 Italian NUTS3 regions, including new measures of institutional quality calculated using data on the provision of four areas of public service: health, educational infrastructures, environment and energy. In order to address likely endogeneity problems, we use the histories of the different foreign dominations that ruled Italian regions between the 16th and 17th century and over seven hundred years before the creation of the unified Italian State. Our results suggest a significant role of past historical institutions on the current public administration efficiency and show that the latter makes a difference to the economic performance of regions. Overall, our analysis confirms that informal institutions matter for development, and that history can be used to find suitable instruments

Figure 1 – Institutional quality: territorial distribution

Figure 5: Italy during the period 1560-1659 (part A) and corresponding current provinces (part B)

Figure 6 –Former Spanish provinces

Italy’s North-South divide (1861-2011): the state of art: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/62209/1/MPRA_paper_62209.pdf
My main argument is summed up in the conclusions: there was a socio-institutional divide between the North and the South of the peninsula, that pre-exists Unification, in some respects grows stronger with it and is never bridged throughout the history of post-unification Italy. Admittedly, some socio-institutional convergence took place in the last decades, but this went in a direction opposite to the desirable one − that is, the North and Italy as a whole have begun to look similar to the South, rather than vice versa.

La cartina dell’ISTAT che mostra dove si leggono più libri in Italia: http://www.ilpost.it/flashes/istat-lettori-regioni-italiane/
ISTAT map showing where more books are read in Italy
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december 2016 by nhaliday
Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?
Bostrom's anthropic arguments

In sum, if your descendants might make simulations of lives like yours, then you might be living in a simulation. And while you probably cannot learn much detail about the specific reasons for and nature of the simulation you live in, you can draw general conclusions by making analogies to the types and reasons of simulations today. If you might be living in a simulation then all else equal it seems that you should care less about others, live more for today, make your world look likely to become eventually rich, expect to and try to participate in pivotal events, be entertaining and praiseworthy, and keep the famous people around you happy and interested in you.

Theological Implications of the Simulation Argument: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/15665399.2010.10820012
Nick Bostrom’s Simulation Argument (SA) has many intriguing theological implications. We work out some of them here. We show how the SA can be used to develop novel versions of the Cosmological and Design Arguments. We then develop some of the affinities between Bostrom’s naturalistic theogony and more traditional theological topics. We look at the resurrection of the body and at theodicy. We conclude with some reflections on the relations between the SA and Neoplatonism (friendly) and between the SA and theism (less friendly).

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september 2016 by nhaliday
Democracy does not cause growth | Brookings Institution
64-page paper
Democracy & Growth: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4909
The favorable effects on growth include maintenance of the rule of law, free markets, small government consumption, and high human capital. Once these kinds of variables and the initial level of real per-capita GDP are held constant, the overall effect of democracy on growth is weakly negative. There is a suggestion of a nonlinear relationship in which democracy enhances growth at low levels of political freedom but depresses growth when a moderate level of freedom has already been attained.

The growth effect of democracy: Is it heterogenous and how can it be estimated∗: http://perseus.iies.su.se/~tpers/papers/cifar_paper_may16_07.pdf
In particular, we find an average negative effect on growth of leaving democracy on the order of −2 percentage points implying effects on income per capita as large as 45 percent over the 1960-2000 panel. Heterogenous characteristics of reforming and non-reforming countries appear to play an important role in driving these results.

Does democracy cause innovation? An empirical test of the popper hypothesis: http://www.sciencedirect.com.sci-hub.cc/science/article/pii/S0048733317300975
The results from the difference-in-differences method show that democracy itself has no direct positive effect on innovation measured with patent counts, patent citations and patent originality.

Benevolent Autocrats: https://williameasterly.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/benevolent-autocrats-easterly-draft.pdf
A large literature attributes this to the higher variance of growth rates under autocracy than under democracy. The literature offers alternative explanations for this stylized fact: (1) leaders don’t matter under democracy, but good and bad leaders under autocracy cause high and low growth, (2) leaders don’t matter under autocracy either, but good and bad autocratic systems cause greater extremes of high and low growth, or (3) democracy does better than autocracy at reducing variance from shocks from outside the political system. This paper details further the stylized facts to test these distinctions. Inconsistent with (1), the variance of growth within the terms of leaders swamps the variance across leaders, and more so under autocracy than under democracy. Country effects under autocracy are also overwhelmed by within-country variance, inconsistent with (2). Explanation (3) fits the stylized facts the best of the three alternatives.

Political Institutions, Size of Government and Redistribution: An empirical investigation: http://www.lse.ac.uk/internationalDevelopment/pdf/WP/WP89.pdf
Results show that the stronger democratic institutions are, the lower is government size and the higher the redistributional capacity of the state. Political competition exercises the strongest and most robust effect on the two variables.

Fits the high-variance theory of autocracies:
More miracles, more disasters. And there's a lot of demand for miracles.

Measuring the ups and downs of governance: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2017/09/22/measuring-the-ups-and-downs-of-governance/
Figure 2: Voice and Accountability and Government Effectiveness, 2016
Georgia, Japan, Rwanda, and Serbia ↑ Gov Effectiveness; Indonesia, Tunisia, Liberia, Serbia, and Nigeria ↑ Voice and Accountability.

The logic of hereditary rule: theory and evidence: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/69615/
Hereditary leadership has been an important feature of the political landscape throughout history. This paper argues that hereditary leadership is like a relational contract which improves policy incentives. We assemble a unique dataset on leaders between 1874 and 2004 in which we classify them as hereditary leaders based on their family history. The core empirical finding is that economic growth is higher in polities with hereditary leaders but only if executive constraints are weak. Moreover, this holds across of a range of specifications. The finding is also mirrored in policy outcomes which affect growth. In addition, we find that hereditary leadership is more likely to come to an end when the growth performance under the incumbent leader is poor.

I noted this when the paper was a working paper, but non-hereditary polities with strong contraints have higher growth rates.
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september 2016 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Bounded cognition
Many people lack standard cognitive tools useful for understanding the world around them. Perhaps the most egregious case: probability and statistics, which are central to understanding health, economics, risk, crime, society, evolution, global warming, etc. Very few people have any facility for calculating risk, visualizing a distribution, understanding the difference between the average, the median, variance, etc.

Risk, Uncertainty, and Heuristics: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/03/risk-uncertainty-and-heuristics.html
Risk = space of outcomes and probabilities are known. Uncertainty = probabilities not known, and even space of possibilities may not be known. Heuristic rules are contrasted with algorithms like maximization of expected utility.

How do smart people make smart decisions? | Gerd Gigerenzer

Helping Doctors and Patients Make Sense of Health Statistics: http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Presentation/2014/12/WC500178514.pdf
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july 2016 by nhaliday

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