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Imitation and the Evolution of Walrasian Behavior: Theoretically Fragile but Behaviorally Robust

  • Jose Apesteguia
  • Steffen Huck
  • Jörg Oechssler
  • Simon Weidenholzer

A well-known result by Vega-Redondo (1997) implies that in symmetric Cournot oligopoly, imitation leads to the Walrasian outcome where price equals marginal cost. In this paper, we show that this result is not robust to the slightest asymmetry in fixed costs. Instead of obtaining the Walrasian outcome as unique prediction, every outcome where agents choose identical actions will be played some fraction of the time in the long run. We then conduct experiments to check this fragility. We obtain that, contrary to the theoretical prediction, the Walrasian outcome is still a good predictor of behavior.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2224.

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Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2224
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  1. Karl H. Schlag, 1995. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? A Bounded Rational Approach to Multi-Armed Bandits," Discussion Paper Serie B 361, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Mar 1996.
  2. Abbink, Klaus & Brandts, Jordi, 2008. "24. Pricing in Bertrand competition with increasing marginal costs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-31, May.
  3. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
  4. Reinhard Selten & Jose Apesteguia, 2002. "Experimentally Observed Imitation and Cooperation in Price Competition on the Circle," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse19_2002, University of Bonn, Germany.
  5. Kandori, M. & Mailath, G.J., 1991. "Learning, Mutation, And Long Run Equilibria In Games," Papers 71, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - John M. Olin Program.
  6. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 1998. "Does information about competitors' actions increase or decrease competition in experimental oligopoly markets?," Industrial Organization 9803004, EconWPA.
  7. P. Young, 1999. "The Evolution of Conventions," Levine's Working Paper Archive 485, David K. Levine.
  8. Apesteguia, Jose & Huck, Steffen & Oechssler, Joerg, 2003. "Imitation - Theory and Experimental Evidence," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt3h0887tj, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  9. Schlag, Karl H., 1994. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? Exploring a Model of Social Evolution," Discussion Paper Serie B 296, University of Bonn, Germany.
  10. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 1999. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly--An Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C80-95, March.
  11. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  12. Theo Offerman & Jan Potters & Joep Sonnemans, 2002. "Imitation and Belief Learning in an Oligopoly Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 973-997.
  13. Noldeke Georg & Samuelson Larry, 1993. "An Evolutionary Analysis of Backward and Forward Induction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 425-454, July.
  14. Fernando Vega Redondo, 1996. "The evolution of walrasian behavior," Working Papers. Serie AD 1996-05, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  15. repec:oup:restud:v:69:y:2002:i:4:p:973-97 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Yasuhito Tanaka, 1999. "Long run equilibria in an asymmetric oligopoly," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 705-715.
  17. Carlos Alós-Ferrer & Ana Ania, 2005. "The evolutionary stability of perfectly competitive behavior," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 497-516, October.
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