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rational inattention


  • Mirko Wiederholt


Economists have studied for a long time how decision-makers allocate scarce resources. The recent literature on rational inattention studies how decision-makers allocate the scarce resource attention. The idea is that decision-makers have a limited amount of attention and have to decide how to allocate it. The literature on rational inattention argues that the optimal allocation of attention by decision-makers can explain important features of economic data.

Suggested Citation

  • Mirko Wiederholt, 2010. "rational inattention," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:dofeco:v:4:year:2010:doi:3841

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi, 1991. "The Allocation of Capital and Time over the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1188-1214, December.
    2. James M. Poterba, 1983. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-occupied Housing: An Asset Market Approach," Working papers 339, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    3. Benhabib, Jess & Rogerson, Richard & Wright, Randall, 1991. "Homework in Macroeconomics: Household Production and Aggregate Fluctuations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1166-1187, December.
    4. Paul Gomme & Finn E. Kydland & Peter Rupert, 2001. "Home Production Meets Time to Build," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 1115-1131, October.
    5. François Ortalo-Magné & Sven Rady, 2006. "Housing Market Dynamics: On the Contribution of Income Shocks and Credit Constraints ," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(2), pages 459-485.
    6. Brian Peterson, 2003. "Aggregate Uncertainty, Individual Uncertainty and the Housing Market," Computing in Economics and Finance 2003 178, Society for Computational Economics.
    7. Hornstein, Andreas & Praschnik, Jack, 1997. "Intermediate inputs and sectoral comovement in the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 573-595, December.
    8. Baxter, Marianne, 1996. "Are Consumer Durables Important for Business Cycles?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 147-155, February.
    9. Topel, Robert H & Rosen, Sherwin, 1988. "Housing Investment in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 718-740, August.
    10. David Domeij & Jonathan Heathcote, 2004. "On The Distributional Effects Of Reducing Capital Taxes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 523-554, May.
    11. Diaz-Gimenez, Javier & Prescott, Edward C. & Fitzgerald, Terry & Alvarez, Fernando, 1992. "Banking in computable general equilibrium economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 533-559.
    12. Fernández-Villaverde, Jesús & Krueger, Dirk, 2011. "Consumption And Saving Over The Life Cycle: How Important Are Consumer Durables?," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(05), pages 725-770, November.
    13. Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1994. "On the quantitative importance of market completeness," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 463-496, December.
    14. Chang, Yongsung, 2000. "Comovement, excess volatility, and home production," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 385-396, October.
    15. Gervais, Martin, 2002. "Housing taxation and capital accumulation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(7), pages 1461-1489, October.
    16. Lawrence J. Christiano & Michele Boldrin & Jonas D. M. Fisher, 2001. "Habit Persistence, Asset Returns, and the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 149-166, March.
    17. Fisher, Jonas D. M., 1997. "Relative prices, complementarities and comovement among components of aggregate expenditures," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 449-474, August.
    18. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
    19. Klein, Paul, 2000. "Using the generalized Schur form to solve a multivariate linear rational expectations model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 24(10), pages 1405-1423, September.
    20. Rochelle M. Edge, 2000. "The effect of monetary policy on residential and structures investment under differential project planning and completion times," International Finance Discussion Papers 671, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    21. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cheremukhin, Anton A. & Popova, Anna & Tutino, Antonella, 2011. "Experimental evidence on rational inattention," Working Papers 1112, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    2. Antonella Tutino, 2013. "Rationally inattentive consumption choices," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(3), pages 421-439, July.
    3. Ueno, Yuko, 2014. "Updating Behavior of Inflation Expectations: Evidence from Japanese Household Panel Data," CIS Discussion paper series 617, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    4. Kristoffer P. Nimark, 2014. "Man-Bites-Dog Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(8), pages 2320-2367, August.
    5. Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2014. "Cognitive load in the multi-player prisoner's dilemma game: Are there brains in games?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 47-56.
    6. repec:eee:gamebe:v:104:y:2017:i:c:p:131-145 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Cheremukhin, Anton & Popova, Anna & Tutino, Antonella, 2015. "A theory of discrete choice with information costs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 34-50.
    8. Christiano, Lawrence & Trabandt, Mathias & Walentin, Karl, 2010. "Involuntary unemployment and the business cycle," Working Paper Series 1202, European Central Bank.
    9. Allred, Sarah & Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2016. "Cognitive load and strategic sophistication," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 162-178.
    10. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Trabandt, Mathias & Walentin, Karl, 2010. "DSGE Models for Monetary Policy Analysis," Handbook of Monetary Economics,in: Benjamin M. Friedman & Michael Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 7, pages 285-367 Elsevier.

    More about this item


    attention; attention allocation; business cycles; consumption; dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE); entropy; expectations; finance; fiscal policy; general equilibrium; imperfect information; incomplete information; information; information choice; information flow; information friction; information processing; information theory; interest rate; learning; limited; attention; macroeconomics; monetary policy; noisy signal; nominal rigidities; portfolio choice; price setting; rational inattention; savings; Sims; C. A.; sticky prices; uncertainty;

    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets


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