NYU Stern hosted a one-day symposium titled "Darwin's Business: New Evolutionary Thinking About Cooperation, Groups, Firms and Societies" organized by Jonathan Haidt and David Sloan Wilson. Paul Romer sat down for an interview and also gave a lecture which can be viewed below.
When Economists think about the constraints, they always gravitate toward law - law or regulation, external enforcement, and that I think really misses most of the action.
I want to start this with a story. When I moved to New York about three years ago, I saw all these people crossing against the walk signal, and you know, I had this moralistic reaction like that's wrong, you shouldn't do that. I came from California, and we don't do that stuff, and there's other obviously other places, you know, like Zurich or Düsseldorf where it is even stronger.
...What was interesting was that I was watching this feeling, and over the course of about three months living here in New York that was completely extinguished. That moralistic feeling that this was wrong just went away. And so it's a sign of I think a high degree of plasticity at the individual level of these kind of moralistic reactions, but yet what we see is extreme persistence at the group level. So this is again this dynamic of the group versus the individual.