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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.

Suggested Citation

  • H. Peyton Young, 1996. "The Economics of Convention," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 105-122, Spring.
  • 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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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.10.2.105
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1974. "Incentives and Risk Sharing in Sharecropping," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(2), pages 219-255.
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    5. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-337, May.
    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. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
    8. Samuelson Larry, 1994. "Stochastic Stability in Games with Alternative Best Replies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 35-65, October.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. An, Mark Y. & Kiefer, Nicholas M., 1995. "Evolution and Equilibria Selection of Repeated Lattice Games," Working Papers 95-32, Duke University, Department of Economics.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations

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