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Learning from Neighbours

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Listed:
  • Venkatesh Bala
  • Sanjeev Goyal

Abstract

When payoffs from different actions are unknown, agents use their own past experience as well as the experience of their neighbours to guide their decision making. In this paper, we develop a general framework to study the relationship between the structure of these neighbourhoods and the process of social learning. We show that, in a connected society, local learning ensures that all agents obtain the same payoffs in the long run. Thus, if actions have different payoffs, then all agents choose the same action, and social conformism obtains. We develop conditions on the distribution of prior beliefs, the structure of neighbourhoods and the informativeness of actions under which this action is optimal. In particular, we identify a property of neighbourhood structures—local independence—which greatly facilitates social learning. Simulations of the model generate spatial and temporal patterns of adoption that are consistent with empirical work.

Suggested Citation

  • Venkatesh Bala & Sanjeev Goyal, 1998. "Learning from Neighbours," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(3), pages 595-621.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:65:y:1998:i:3:p:595-621.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/1467-937X.00059
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Arthur, W Brian, 1989. "Competing Technologies, Increasing Returns, and Lock-In by Historical Events," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 116-131, March.
    2. Aghion, Philippe & Espinosa, Maria Paz & Jullien, Bruno, 1993. "Dynamic Duopoly with Learning through Market Experimentation," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 3(3), pages 517-539, July.
    3. Ellison, Glenn & Fudenberg, Drew, 1993. "Rules of Thumb for Social Learning," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 612-643, August.
    4. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
    5. Bala, Venkatesh & Goyal, Sanjeev, 1995. "A Theory of Learning with Heterogeneous Agents," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(2), pages 303-323, May.
    6. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
    7. Bala, Venkatesh & Goyal, Sanjeev, 1994. "The Birth of a New Market," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(423), pages 282-290, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General

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