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The Harris-Todaro Labor Allocation Mechanism as an Evolutionary Game


  • Jaylson Jair da Silveira; Joao Rogerio Sanson


The Harris-Todaro model is reinterpreted under an evolutionary game approach, including the behavior of migrants under bounded rationality in a process of imitation or learning. A first feature is an improvement upon Harris-Todaro by replacing the sign-preserving function of the adjustment mechanism by a replicator dynamics. The worker's decision to migrate to the urban area depends upon the expected differential between urban and rural wage. However, the probability associated to getting a job in the traditional, or formal, sector, which defines the expected urban wage, is itself endogenous, since it is affected by migration. Besides, the worker is myopic in forming expectations, having only one period as the planning horizon. This implies bounded rationality on the part of the migrant worker. The migratory movement of workers is interpreted as a process of imitation or learning. A second basic feature of the model is an interpretation of the equilibrium condition as a mixed strategy equilibrium of an evolutionary game. In this game, a replicator dynamics is a result instead of a postulate, as is the case of the dynamic adjustment mechanism of the original model. Here it appears as a spontaneous result from the interaction of heterogeneous workers

Suggested Citation

  • Jaylson Jair da Silveira; Joao Rogerio Sanson, 2004. "The Harris-Todaro Labor Allocation Mechanism as an Evolutionary Game," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 133, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:latm04:133

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jorgen W. Weibull, 1997. "Evolutionary Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262731215, July.
    2. Carrington, William J & Detragiache, Enrica & Vishwanath, Tara, 1996. "Migration with Endogenous Moving Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 909-930, September.
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    More about this item


    migration; labor market; evolutionary game; bounded rationality;

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games

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