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Network Architecture and the Left-Right Spectrum


  • Taubinsky Dmitry

    () (Harvard University and Harvard Business School)


We study a model of opinion formation and analyze the link between network architecture and the “left-right spectrum” that frequently characterizes opinions and beliefs. We correct a key result of DeMarzo, Vayanos and Zwiebel (QJE, 2003) who claim that after some time, an agent’s position on a set of different issues will always be either “left” on all of those issues or “right” on all of those issues. We provide counterexamples to this claim and show that in the long-run an agent’s position can flip-flop between “left” on all issues and “right” on all issues indefinitely. However, we provide necessary and sufficient conditions for a stable left-right characterization of opinions to be possible in the long run. Roughly, a flip-flop will occur when agents give relatively little weight to the opinions of agents with similar political positions (including themselves). Following this intuition, we show that a simple sufficient condition is that agents become “stubborn” over time and give little weight to the opinions of others. Finally, we characterize classes of networks in which it is possible for agents to flip-flop between “left” and “right” indefinitely. We argue that qualitatively, these results are robust to alternative models of opinion formation.

Suggested Citation

  • Taubinsky Dmitry, 2011. "Network Architecture and the Left-Right Spectrum," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-25, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejtec:v:11:y:2011:i:1:n:1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, July.
    2. Szidarovszky, F & Yakowitz, S, 1977. "A New Proof of the Existence and Uniqueness of the Cournot Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 18(3), pages 787-789, October.
    3. Charles D. Kolstad & Lars Mathiesen, 1987. "Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Uniqueness of a Cournot Equilibrium," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(4), pages 681-690.
    4. Paul A. Samuelson, 1953. "Prices of Factors and Goods in General Equilibrium," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-20.
    5. Gérard Gaudet & Stephen W. Salant, 1991. "Uniqueness of Cournot Equilibrium: New Results From Old Methods," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 399-404.
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