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Innovation Diffusion in Heterogeneous Populations: Contagion, Social Influence, and Social Learning

  • H. Peyton Young

New ideas, products, and practices take time to diffuse, a fact that is often attributed to some form of heterogeneity among potential adopters. This paper examines three broad classes of diffusion models -- contagion, social influence, and social learning -- and shows how to incorporate heterogeneity into each at a high level of generality without losing analytical tractability. Each type of model leaves a characteristic "footprint" on the shape of the adoption curve which provides a basis for discriminating empirically between them. The approach is illustrated using the classic study of Ryan and Gross (1943) on the diffusion of hybrid corn. (JEL D83, O33, Q16, Z13)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.99.5.1899
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/dec09/20071161_data.zip
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1899-1924

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:5:p:1899-1924
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.5.1899
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