Learning from Neighbours
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.
Volume (Year): 65 (1998)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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