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Heterogeneity and Increasing Returns May Drive Socio-Economic Transitions

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  • G\'erard Weisbuch
  • Vincent Buskens
  • Luat Vuong
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    Abstract

    There are clear benefits associated with a particular consumer choice for many current markets. For example, as we consider here, some products might carry environmental or `green' benefits. Some consumers might value these benefits while others do not. However, as evidenced by myriad failed attempts of environmental products to maintain even a niche market, such benefits do not necessarily outweigh the extra purchasing cost. The question we pose is, how can such an initially economically-disadvantaged green product evolve to hold the greater share of the market? We present a simple mathematical model for the dynamics of product competition in a heterogeneous consumer population. Our model preassigns a hierarchy to the products, which designates the consumer choice when prices are comparable, while prices are dynamically rescaled to reflect increasing returns to scale. Our approach allows us to model many scenarios of technology substitution and provides a method for generalizing market forces. With this model, we begin to forecast irreversible trends associated with consumer dynamics as well as policies that could be made to influence transitions

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    File URL: http://arxiv.org/pdf/0706.1454
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by arXiv.org in its series Papers with number 0706.1454.

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    Date of creation: Jun 2007
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    Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:0706.1454

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    Web page: http://arxiv.org/

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    1. Gordon, Mirta B. & Nadal, Jean-Pierre & Phan, Denis & Vannimenus, Jean, 2005. "Seller's dilemma due to social interactions between customers," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 356(2), pages 628-640.
    2. Jean-Pierre Nadal & Denis Phan & Mirta Gordon & Jean Vannimenus, 2005. "Multiple equilibria in a monopoly market with heterogeneous agents and externalities," Quantitative Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(6), pages 557-568.
    3. Weisbuch, G. & Kirman, A. & Herreiner, D., 1998. "Market Organisation and Trading Relationships," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 98a32, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
    4. René Kemp, 1998. "The Diffusion of Biological Waste-Water Treatment Plants in the Dutch Food and Beverage Industry," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 12(1), pages 113-136, July.
    5. Weisbuch, Gerard, 2000. "Environment and institutions: a complex dynamical systems approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 381-391, December.
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