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The Economics of Convention

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  • H. Peyton Young

Abstract

The purpose of conventions is to coordinate people's expectations in economic and social interactions that have multiple equilibria. Conventions often emerge endogenously from the accumulation of many precedents, a process that can be modeled as a stochastic dynamical system. The theory leads to specific predictions about the ways in which conventions form and are displaced, and identifies key properties of conventions that are most likely to withstand the test of time. The theory is illustrated by the evolution of left-wing driving conventions in Europe and patterns of sharecropping contracts in agriculture.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.10.2.105
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 10 (1996)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 105-122

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:10:y:1996:i:2:p:105-22

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.10.2.105
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  1. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
  2. Ellison, Glenn, 1993. "Learning, Local Interaction, and Coordination," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(5), pages 1047-71, September.
  3. Blume Lawrence E., 1993. "The Statistical Mechanics of Strategic Interaction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 387-424, July.
  4. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
  5. Stanley M. Besen & Joseph Farrell, 1994. "Choosing How to Compete: Strategies and Tactics in Standardization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 117-131, Spring.
  6. Michael L. Katz & Carl Shapiro, 1994. "Systems Competition and Network Effects," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 93-115, Spring.
  7. Brian Arthur, W. & Ermoliev, Yu. M. & Kaniovski, Yu. M., 1987. "Path-dependent processes and the emergence of macro-structure," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 294-303, June.
  8. Samuelson Larry, 1994. "Stochastic Stability in Games with Alternative Best Replies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 35-65, October.
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