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Biased Social Learning

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This paper examines social learning when only one of the two types of decisions is observable. Because agents arrive randomly over time, and only those who invest are observed, later agents face a more complicated inference problem than in the standard model, as the absence of investment might reflect either a choice not to invest, or a lack of arrivals. We show that, as in the standard model, learning is complete if and only if signals are unbounded. If signals are bounded, cascades may occur, and whether they are more or less likely than in the standard model depends on a property of the signal distribution. If the hazard ratio of the distributions increases in the signal, it is more likely that no one invests in the standard model than in this one, and welfare is higher. Conclusions are reversed if the hazard ratio is decreasing. The monotonicity of the hazard ratio is the condition that guarantees the presence or absence of informational cascades in the standard herding model.

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File URL: http://cowles.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/pub/d17/d1738.pdf
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Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1738.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Publication status: Published in Games and Economic Behavior (July 2013), 80: 131-146
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1738
Note: CFP 1380
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Web page: http://cowles.yale.edu/

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Order Information: Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

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  1. Callander, Steven & Hörner, Johannes, 2009. "The wisdom of the minority," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(4), pages 1421-1439.2, July.
  2. Celen, Bogachan & Kariv, Shachar, 2004. "Observational learning under imperfect information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 72-86, April.
  3. Kenneth Hendricks & Alan Sorensen & Thomas Wiseman, 2012. "Observational Learning and Demand for Search Goods," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 1-31, February.
  4. Chamley, Christophe & Gale, Douglas, 1994. "Information Revelation and Strategic Delay in a Model of Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 1065-1085, September.
  5. Chari, V. V. & Kehoe, Patrick J., 2004. "Financial crises as herds: overturning the critiques," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 128-150, November.
  6. Elton, Edwin J & Gruber, Martin J & Blake, Christopher R, 1996. "Survivorship Bias and Mutual Fund Performance," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 9(4), pages 1097-1120.
  7. 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.
  8. Guarino, Antonio & Harmgart, Heike & Huck, Steffen, 2011. "Aggregate information cascades," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 167-185, September.
  9. Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
  10. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
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