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Baumard proposes that life history slowing in populations over time is the principal driver of innovation rates. We show that this is only true of micro-innovation rates, which reflect cognitive and economic specialization as an adaptation to high population density, and not macro-innovation rates, which relate more to a population's level of general intelligence.
The prediction that reduction of negative selection decreases group-level competitiveness, as reflected in increased individual-focused and diminished group-focused moral foundations, is tested. To measure this hypothesized shift in moral foundations, we conduct a culturomic analysis of the utilization frequencies of items sourced from the moral foundations item pool, tracked among Britannic populations from 1800 to 1999 using Google Ngram Viewer. The resultant higher-order factor, which tracks increasing individualizing values and decreasing binding values, is termed Asabiyyah (capturing social cohesion and collective purpose). Two predictors of this factor are examined: change in the strength of intergroup competition and change in levels of indicators of developmental instability. Both the strength of intergroup competition and levels of developmental instability associate with Asabiyyah. Rising developmental instability mediates the impact of inter-group competition, indicating that reduced between-group competition might have relaxed negative selection against mutations, which might reduce Asabiyyah via their effects on inter-genomic transactions. These results must be interpreted carefully, given the clear real-world evidence that explicit commitment to group-oriented values often features in harmful and maladaptive social and political ideologies of an extreme character.
This article analyzes the effect of country size, level of funding, method of financing, and ways of collaboration on scientific publication output in terms of the number of articles published and citations received in the scientific literature across national research systems. This article takes an initial step toward integrating mentioned aspects into one analysis because previously, they have been studied incoherently as separate issues. The study encompasses European countries using data provided by Clarivate Analytics, the European Commission and Eurostat. Based on the empirical analysis, three conclusions emerge. Firstly, we have to reject the proposition that the function of scientific production exhibits increasing returns to scale. Secondly, transnationally coordinated research projects have a strong positive effect on countries’ number of articles and citations. Smaller countries participate proportionally more in transnationally coordinated research and are therefore more affected by the phenomena of hyperauthorship. This explains why several small nations perform above their weight in impact relative to spending. Thirdly, the share of competitive project-based funding does not affect the number of articles published but has a U-shaped relationship with research impact per article, pointing toward two alternative financing strategies for maximizing impact based on high or low share of project-based funding. Based on the analysis, we present strengths and weaknesses of European countries’ research systems for policy purposes.
We critique Steven Pinker’s acclaimed book Enlightenment Now (2018) at length. In his defense of an optimistic view of modernity, Pinker fails to mention a variety of negative trends, such as those indicating declines in important dimensions of human intelligence.
We report successful diachronic replication of two major sets of prior findings in the
social biogeography of human life history (LH) strategy: (1) the constructive replication of
the diachronic changes in the latent hierarchical structure of intelligence in Britannic
populations, but as presently applied to the latent hierarchical structure of human LH
strategy, now cross-validated in both Britannic and Gallic populations; and (2) the
diachronic replication in both Britannic and Gallic populations of the structural relations
found synchronically among human LH strategy, between-group competition, and
economic productivity in cross-sectional data on contemporary samples of both national
and subnational polities. In addition, a supplementary methodological objective was: (3)
the convergent validation of diachronic lexicographic measures of LH strategy with
respect to more traditional non-lexicographic indicators of LH strategy, such as infant
mortality rates, total fertility rates, and life expectancies. We obtained complete
configural invariance across Britannic and Gallic biocultural groups, meaning that the
same model predictors were statistically significant, but incomplete metric invariance,
meaning that most but not all model parameter estimates were statistically equivalent in
magnitude and direction. All new results obtained from diachronic data in Britannic
populations were replicated almost perfectly in Gallic populations.
This paper aims to understand the dynamics of cultural accumulation when cultural knowledge is costly to produce and costly to learn. We first show that the cost of social learning prevents any significant cultural accumulation, as individuals rapidly reach a maximum amount of knowledge that they can barely learn over the course of their lives, without being able to go any further. However, we then show that cultural knowledge can accumulate durably and even experience phases of acceleration if it improves individuals' productivity. That is, if culture is a capital . In this case, cultural knowledge creates wealth that can then be invested into the production of further knowledge, generating a positive feedback loop allowing significant acumulation and acceleration. These results prompt us to change the way we see cultural evolution. Instead of an accumulation of uninteded random "mutations," as in genetics, cultural evolution should rather be seen as an accumulation of assets that gradually improve productivity and allow individuals to learn, master and create an increasingly higher amount of further assets.
[Target Article.] Objectives: Sexual selection typically centers on bodily and psychological traits. Non-bodily traits ranging from housing and vehicles through art to social media can, however, influence sexual selection even in absence of the phenotype proper. The theoretical framework of human sexual selection is updated in this article by unifying four theoretical approaches and conceptualizing non-bodily traits as extended phenotypic traits.
Existing research is synthesized with extended phenotype theory, life history theory, and behavioral ecology. To test population-level hypotheses arising from the review, ecological and demographic data on 122 countries are analyzed with multiple linear regression modelling.
A four-factor model of intelligence, adolescent fertility, population density, and atmospheric cold demands predicts 64% of global variation in economic complexity in 1995 and 72% of the variation in 2016.
The evolutionary pathways of extended phenotypes frequently undergo a categorical broadening from providing functional benefits to carrying signalling value. Extended phenotypes require investments in skills and bioenergetic resources, but they can improve survival in high latitudes, facilitate the extraction of resources from the environment, and substantially influence sexual selection outcomes. Bioenergetic investments in extended phenotypes create individual- and population-level tradeoffs with competing life history processes, exemplified here as a global tradeoff between adolescent fertility and economic complexity. The merits of the present model include a more systematic classification of sexual traits, a clearer articulation of their evolutionary-developmental hierarchy, and an analysis of ecological, genetic, and psychological mechanisms that modulate the flow of energy into extended phenotypes and cultural innovations.
Cultural processes, as well as the selection pressures experienced by individuals in a population over time and space, are fundamentally stochastic. Phenotypic variability, together with imperfect phenotypic transmission between parents and offspring, has been previously shown to play an important role in evolutionary rescue and (epi)genetic adaptation of populations to fluctuating temporal environmental pressures. This type of evolutionary bet-hedging does not confer a direct benefit to a single individual, but instead increases the adaptability of the whole lineage.
Here we develop a population-genetic model to explore cultural response strategies to temporally changing selection, as well as the role of local population structure, as exemplified by heterogeneity in the contact network between individuals, in shaping evolutionary dynamics. We use this model to study the evolutionary advantage of cultural bet-hedging, modeling the evolution of a variable cultural trait starting from one copy in a population of individuals with a fixed cultural strategy. We find that the probability of fixation of a cultural bet-hedger is a non-monotonic function of the probability of cultural memory between generations. Moreover, this probability increases for networks of higher mean degree but decreases with increasing heterogeneity of the contact network, tilting the balance of forces towards drift and against selection.
These results shed light on the interplay of temporal and spatial stochasticity in shaping cultural evolutionary dynamics and suggest that partly-heritable cultural phenotypic variability may constitute an important evolutionary bet-hedging strategy in response to changing selection pressures.
Human prosociality toward nonkin is ubiquitous and almost unique in the animal kingdom. It remains poorly understood, although a proliferation of theories has arisen to explain it. We present evidence from survey data and laboratory treatment of experimental subjects that is consistent with a set of theories based on group-level selection of cultural norms favoring prosociality. In particular, increases in competition increase trust levels of individuals who (i) work in firms facing more competition, (ii) live in states where competition increases, (iii) move to more competitive industries, and (iv) are placed into groups facing higher competition in a laboratory experiment. The findings provide support for cultural group selection as a contributor to human prosociality.
For better or for worse, in recent times the rapid growth of international economic exchange has changed our lives. But when did this process of globalization begin, and what effects did it have on economies and societies? Pim de Zwart and Jan Luiten van Zanden argue that the networks of trade established after the voyages of Columbus and Da Gama of the late fifteenth century had transformative effects inaugurating the first era of globalization. The global flows of ships, people, money and commodities between 1500 and 1800 were substantial, and the re-alignment of production and distribution resulting from these connections had important consequences for demography, well-being, state formation and the long-term economic growth prospects of the societies involved in the newly created global economy. Whether early globalization had benign or malignant effects differed by region, but the world economy as we now know it originated in these changes in the early modern period.
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How has the complexity of cultural products changed over time and what is responsible for these
changes? A cultural compression hypothesis (CCH) suggests that changes in simplicity (vs. complexity) of cultural products is associated with shifts in the volume of cultural products, with greater within-domain volume of products facilitating evolution within the domain toward simpler products. To test this hypothesis, we introduce a novel approach to assessing lyrical complexity in popular music over a period of six decades. Consistent with the CCH, we show that the average lyrical compressibility of American popular music (an index of simplicity) has increased over time and that this rise is driven by increases in the amount of music produced annually (an indicator of the amount of cultural products people have to choose from). This relationship holds controlling for a number of potentially-related ecological changes and alternative explanations, and when accounting or correcting for temporal auto-correlation using a variety of methods (including correcting significance thresholds based on observed auto- correlation, partial correlation analysis controlling for year, and using auto.ARIMA to assess the contribution of amount of music produced to compressibility over and above autocorrelation in the two time series). Results of auto.ARIMA forecasts confirm the contribution of amount of music produced to success of more repetitive songs and suggest that the trend of increasing simplicity will continue over the next several decades. We discuss implications of the cultural compression hypothesis for understanding cultural evolution and social change.
[Target Article.] Women’s capacity for sexual fluidity is at least as interesting a phenomenon from the point of view of evolutionary biology and behavioral endocrinology as exclusively homosexual orientation. Evolutionary hypotheses for female nonheterosexuality
have failed to fully account for the existence of these different categories of nonheterosexual women, while also overlooking broader data on the causal mechanisms, physiology, ontogeny, and phylogeny of female nonheterosexuality. We review the
evolutionary-developmental origins of various phenotypes in the female sexual orientation spectrum using the synergistic approach of Tinbergen’s four questions. We also present femme-specific and butch-specific hypotheses at proximate and ultimate levels of analysis. This review article indicates that various nonheterosexual female phenotypes emerge from and contribute to hormonally mediated fast life history strategies. Life history theory provides a biobehavioral explanatory framework for nonheterosexual women’s masculinized body morphology, psychological dispositions, and their elevated likelihood of experiencing violence, substance use, obesity, teenage pregnancy, and lower general health. This pattern of life outcomes can create a feedback loop of environmental unpredictability and harshness which destabilizes intrauterine hormonal conditions
in mothers, leading to a greater likelihood of fast life history strategies, global health problems, and nonheterosexual preferences in female offspring. We further explore the potential of female nonheterosexuality to function as an alloparental buffer that enables masculinizing alleles to execute their characteristic fast life history strategies as they appear in the female and the male phenotype. Synthesizing life history theory with the female sexual orientation spectrum enriches existing scientific knowledge on the evolutionary-developmental mechanisms of human sex differences.
We examine the effects of a quasi-experimental unconditional household income transfer on child emotional and behavioral health and personality traits. Using longitudinal data, we find that there are large beneficial effects on children's emotional and behavioral health and personality traits during adolescence. We find evidence that these effects are most pronounced for children who start out with the lowest initial endowments. The income intervention also results in improvements in parental relationships which we interpret as a potential mechanism behind our findings.
Why are some individuals more prone to gamble than others? Animals often show preferences between 2 foraging options with the same mean reward but different degrees of variability in the reward, and such risk preferences vary between individuals. Previous attempts to explain variation in risk preference have focused on energy budgets, but with limited empirical support. Here, we consider whether biological ageing, which affects mortality and residual reproductive value, predicts risk preference. We studied a cohort of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in which we had previously measured developmental erythrocyte telomere attrition, an established integrative biomarker of biological ageing. We measured the adult birds' preferences when choosing between a fixed amount of food and a variable amount with an equal mean. After controlling for change in body weight during the experiment (a proxy for energy budget), we found that birds that had undergone greater developmental telomere attrition were more risk averse as adults than were those whose telomeres had shortened less as nestlings. Developmental telomere attrition was a better predictor of adult risk preference than either juvenile telomere length or early-life food supply and begging effort. Our longitudinal study thus demonstrates that biological ageing, as measured via developmental telomere attrition, is an important source of lasting differences in adult risk preferences.
Since 1945, there have been relatively few large interstate wars, especially compared to the preceding 30 years, which included both World Wars. This pattern, sometimes called the long peace, is highly controversial. Does it represent an enduring trend caused by a genuine change in the underlying conflict-generating processes? Or is it consistent with a highly variable but otherwise stable system of conflict? Using the empirical distributions of interstate war sizes and onset times from 1823 to 2003, we parameterize stationary models of conflict generation that can distinguish trends from statistical fluctuations in the statistics of war. These models indicate that both the long peace and the period of great violence that preceded it are not statistically uncommon patterns in realistic but stationary conflict time series. This fact does not detract from the importance of the long peace or the proposed mechanisms that explain it. However, the models indicate that the postwar pattern of peace would need to endure at least another 100 to 140 years to become a statistically significant trend. This fact places an implicit upper bound on the magnitude of any change in the true likelihood of a large war after the end of the Second World War. The historical patterns of war thus seem to imply that the long peace may be substantially more fragile than proponents believe, despite recent efforts to identify mechanisms that reduce the likelihood of interstate wars.
Identifying the determinants of cumulative cultural evolution is a key issue in the interdisciplinary field of cultural evolution. A widely held view is that large and well-connected social networks facilitate cumulative cultural evolution because they promote the spread of useful cultural traits and prevent the loss of cultural knowledge through factors such as drift. This view stems from models that focus on the transmission of cultural information, without considering how new cultural traits actually arise. In this paper, we review the literature from various fields that suggest that, under some circumstances, increased connectedness can decrease cultural diversity and reduce innovation rates. Incorporating this idea into an agent-based model, we explore the effect of population fragmentation on cumulative culture and show that, for a given population size, there exists an intermediate level of population fragmentation that maximizes the rate of cumulative cultural evolution. This result is explained by the fact that fully connected, non-fragmented populations are able to maintain complex cultural traits but produce insufficient variation and so lack the cultural diversity required to produce highly complex cultural traits. Conversely, highly fragmented populations produce a variety of cultural traits but cannot maintain complex ones. In populations with intermediate levels of fragmentation, cultural loss and cultural diversity are balanced in a way that maximizes cultural complexity. Our results suggest that population structure needs to be taken into account when investigating the relationship between demography and cumulative culture.
This article is part of the theme issue ‘Bridging cultural gaps: interdisciplinary studies in human cultural evolution’.
The Industrial Revolution was a pivotal point in British history that occurred between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries, and led to far reaching transformations of society. The Industrial Revolution: A Very Short Introduction analyses the key features of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, and the spread of industrialization to other countries. It considers the factors that combined to enable industrialization at this time, including Britain’s position as a global commercial empire, and discusses the changes in technology and business organization, and their impact on different social classes and groups. It looks at how the changes were reflected in evolving government policies, and what contribution these made to the economic transformation.
The British Empire: A Very Short Introduction explores how the British Empire became so powerful and far-reaching. From the eighteenth century until the 1950s the British Empire was the biggest political entity in the world. What was the British Empire and what were its main constituent parts? How was the Empire ruled? What were its economic effects? What were the cultural implications of empire, in Britain and its colonies? These questions are answered in this VSI and the life of the people living under imperial rule is examined. The legacies of the Empire and how it should be viewed in world history are also explored.
Originally published in two volumes in 1980, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change is now issued in a paperback edition containing both volumes. The work is a full-scale historical treatment of the advent of printing and its importance as an agent of change. Professor Eisenstein begins by examining the general implications of the shift from script to print, and goes on to examine its part in three of the major movements of early modern times - the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the rise of modern science.
In The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions, William M. Reddy offers a theory of emotions which both critiques and expands upon recent research in the fields of anthropology and psychology. Exploring the links between emotion and cognition, between culture and emotional expression, Reddy applies this theory of emotions to the processes of history. He demonstrates how emotions change over time, how emotions have a very important impact on the course of events, and how different social orders either facilitate or constrain emotional life. In an investigation of Revolutionary France, where sentimentalism in literature and philosophy had promised a new and unprecedented kind of emotional liberty, Reddy's theory of emotions and historical change is successfully put to the test.
Long-run growth in many models is the product of two terms: the effective number of researchers and their research productivity. We present evidence from various industries, products, and firms showing that research effort is rising substantially while research productivity is declining sharply. A good example is Moore’s Law. The number of researchers required today to achieve the famous doubling of computer chip density is more than 18 times larger than the number required in the early 1970s. More generally, everywhere we look we find that ideas, and the exponential growth they imply, are getting harder to find. (JEL D24, E23, O31, O47)
This paper raises basic questions about the process of economic growth. It questions the assumption, nearly universal since Solow’s seminal contributions of the 1950s, that economic growth is a continuous process that will persist forever. There was virtually no growth before 1750, and thus there is no guarantee that growth will continue indefinitely. Rather, the paper suggests that the rapid progress made over the past 250 years could well turn out to be a unique episode in human history. The paper views the future from 2007 while pretending that the financial crisis did not happen.
Male height and health affect a diverse range of social and economic outcomes such as competition for resources and mates. Life history theory predicts that limited availability of bioenergetic resources curbs the development of central life history functions such as somatic growth, immunity, and investment in offspring. Although genetic factors are important determinants of height, other factors such as income level may affect the incidence of infections during ontogeny, thus having indirect effects on somatic growth. We tested whether growing up in families with a higher income positively affects height and immune function.
Materials and methods:
Seventy-three young Latvian men from various socioeconomic backgrounds were given a hepatitis B vaccine. Blood samples were subsequently collected to measure the antibodies produced in response to the vaccination. Tweedie compound Poisson generalized linear models were used to examine relationships between height, family income, and antibody titers.
Both height and family income positively correlated with the strength of men's immune response. However, when testing for the simultaneous effects of height and income on antibody titers, the statistical models showed that height affected antibody levels indirectly because income level mediated variance in height.
The results of this study show that the relationships between height and immune function in young men are more complex than previously thought. Associations between taller stature of men and the robustness of their immune response are indirect because resource availability affects both somatic growth and the development of the immune system.
Despite being the first Asian economy to achieve modern economic growth, Japan has received relatively little attention in the Great Divergence debate. New estimates suggest that although the level of GDP per capita remained below the level of northwest Europe throughout the period 730–1874, Japan experienced positive trend growth before 1868, in contrast to the negative trend growth experienced in China and India, leading to a Little Divergence within Asia. However, growth in Japan remained slower than in northwest Europe so that Japan continued to fall behind until after the institutional reforms of the early Meiji period. The Great Divergence thus occurred as the most dynamic part of Asia fell behind the most dynamic part of Europe.
In many scientific domains, causality is the key question. For example, in neuroscience, we might ask whether a medication affects perception, cognition or action. Randomized controlled trials are the gold standard to establish causality, but they are not always practical. The field of empirical economics has developed rigorous methods to establish causality even when randomized controlled trials are not available. Here we review these quasi-experimental methods and highlight how neuroscience and behavioural researchers can use them to do research that can credibly demonstrate causal effects.
As a result of recent advances in historical national accounting, estimates of GDP per capita are now available for a number of European economies back to the medieval period, including Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain. The approach has also been extended to Asian economies, including India and Japan. So far, however, China, which has been at the center of the Great Divergence debate, has been absent from this approach. This article adds China to the picture, showing that the Great Divergence began earlier than originally suggested by the California School, but later than implied by older Eurocentric writers.
The social sciences share a mission to shed light on human nature and society. However, there is no widely accepted meta-theory; no foundation from which variables can be linked, causally sequenced, or ultimately explained. This book advances “life history evolution” as the missing meta-theory for the social sciences. Originally a biological theory for the variation between species, research on life history evolution now encompasses psychological and sociological variation within the human species that has long been the stock and trade of social scientific study. The eighteen chapters of this book review six disciplines, eighteen authors, and eighty-two volumes published between 1734 and 2015—re-reading the texts in the light of life history evolution.
According to the cognitive human capital theory, cognitive ability furthers at the individual, institutional and societal level productivity, production, income and wealth. Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies using various indicators (psychometric IQs, student assessment tests, education vs. GDP per capita, growth), different methods (correlations, regressions, path models) and different controls have supported this theory in two research paradigms (psychology, economics). An especially revealing test is, whether historical increases in IQ within countries would lead to later economic growth, i.e. about 10 to 20 years later. This design can exclude national differences being associated with human capital and growth (e.g., in culture, economic freedom and politics) which may bias the results. We used a data set of national IQ changes (“FLynn effect”) from Pietschnig and Voracek (2015). For a maximum of 28 nations and 262 periods between 1909 and 2013 IQ development was related to concurrent or lagged GDP per capita development (growth; 5, 10, 15, 20 years). In a second analysis with at least three IQ-GDP periods per country the single within-country correlations for concurrent and later intervals were estimated (13 nations). Finally, we controlled for previous wealth (advantages of backwardness). All analyses show substantial relationships between increases in IQ and GDP, the highest were found for the 5 to 15 years lagged economic growth (r = .25 to .44 resp. .46 to .77). The results back the theory that cognitive ability contributes to wealth.
The purpose of this study is to conduct a systematic review of the literature on the relationship between general cognitive ability and fertility among modern humans. Our goals were to (a) evaluate the state of the extant literature, and (b) provide a quantitative summary of effect sizes to the extent possible (given the limitations of the literature). A thorough search identified 17 unique datasets that passed the inclusion criteria. Using a Random Effects Model to evaluate the data, the overall weighted effect was r = −0.11, although the data also indicated a sex effect (stronger correlations among females than males), and a race effect (stronger correlations among Black and Hispanic populations compared to Whites). Importantly, the data suggest the correlation has been increasing in strength throughout the 20th century (and early 21st). Finally, we discovered several notable limitations of the extant literature; limitations that currently prohibit a psychometric meta-analysis. We discuss these issues with emphasis on improving future primary studies to allow for more effective meta-analytic investigations.
Bruce M. S. Campbell's The Great Transition: Climate, Disease and Society in the Late-Medieval World is a significant contribution to the growing literature that traces the roots of Europe's economic rise to the climatic and population shocks of the late medieval period. This review essay discusses the empirical, historical, and theoretical support for Campbell's view while highlighting that it struggles to explain why these positive effects were limited to Europe. It then hypothesizes that Europe's differential response to this shock reflected prior institutional advantages and provides some preliminary empirical evidence in support of this hypothesis. The essay concludes by examining Campbell's claim that these shocks contributed to Atlantic Europe's rise prior to the colonial period.
The prevailing explanation for why the industrial revolution occurred first in Britain during the last quarter of the eighteenth century is Allen’s ‘high wage economy’ view, which claims that the high cost of labour relative to capital and fuel incentivized innovation and the adoption of new techniques. This article presents new empirical evidence on hand spinning before the industrial revolution and demonstrates that there was no such ‘high wage economy’ in spinning, which was a leading sector of industrialization. We quantify the working lives of frequently ignored female and child spinners who were crucial to the British textile industry with evidence of productivity and wages from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth century. Spinning emerges as a widespread, low‐productivity, low‐wage employment, in which wages did not rise substantially in advance of the introduction of the jenny and water frame. The motivation for mechanization must be sought elsewhere.
This article uses data on income distribution and life expectancy to construct estimates of the distribution of lifetime consumption in England for benchmark dates since 1688. Inequality in lifetime consumption fell rapidly in the century after 1867. The evidence for earlier periods does not support Lindert's recent conjecture that inequality of lifetime consumption increased during the industrial revolution.
This article examines Judy Stephenson's claim that institutional wage series such as those of Greenwich Hospital overstate the earnings of building workers by 20 to 30 per cent, and it is argued here that the conclusion is unpersuasive. Whatever adjustments to existing wage series are necessary in view of her new evidence would have no significant implications for real wages in England compared to the rest of the world. Consequently, Stephenson's findings do not call into question the high wage explanation for the industrial revolution.