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Ants, Rationality, and Recruitment

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  • Alan Kirman

Abstract

This paper offers an explanation of behavior that puzzled entomologists and economists. Ants, faced with two identical food sources, were observed to concentrate more on one of these, but after a period they would turn their attention to the other. The same phenomenon has been observed in humans choosing between restaurants. After discussing the nature of foraging and recruitment behavior in ants, a simple model of stochastic recruitment is suggested. This explains the "herding" and "epidemics" described in the literature on financial markets as corresponding to the equilibrium distribution of a stochastic process rather than to switching between multiple equilibria.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Kirman, 1993. "Ants, Rationality, and Recruitment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(1), pages 137-156.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:108:y:1993:i:1:p:137-156.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.2307/2118498
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marsh, Terry A & Merton, Robert C, 1986. "Dividend Variability and Variance Bounds Tests for the Rationality ofStock Market Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 483-498, June.
    2. Brainard, William C. & Shoven, John B., 1980. "The financial valuation of the return to capital," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue 4, pages 43-104.
    3. Jorgenson, Dale W & Yun, Kun-Young, 1986. " Tax Policy and Capital Allocation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(2), pages 355-377.
    4. Takeo Hoshi & Anil Kashyap & David Scharfstein, 1991. "Corporate Structure, Liquidity, and Investment: Evidence from Japanese Industrial Groups," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(1), pages 33-60.
    5. De Long, J Bradford & Andrei Shleifer & Lawrence H. Summers & Robert J. Waldmann, 1990. "Noise Trader Risk in Financial Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 703-738, August.
    6. William C. Brainard & John B. Shoven & Laurence Weiss, 1980. "The Financial Valuation of the Return to Capital," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 11(2), pages 453-512.
    7. Galeotti, Marzio & Schiantarelli, Fabio, 1994. "Stock Market Volatility and Investment: Do Only Fundamentals Matter?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 61(242), pages 147-165, May.
    8. LeRoy, Stephen F & Porter, Richard D, 1981. "The Present-Value Relation: Tests Based on Implied Variance Bounds," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 555-574, May.
    9. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "Tobin's Marginal q and Average q: A Neoclassical Interpretation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 213-224, January.
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