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Learning from Neighbors

  • Bala, V.
  • Goyal, S.

When payoffs from different actions are unknown, agents use their own past experience as well as the experience of their neighbors to guide their current decision making. This paper develops a general framework to study the relationship between the structure of information flows and the process of social learning. We show that in a connected society, local learning ensures that all agents obtain the same utility, in the long run. We develop conditions under which this utility is the maximal attainable, i.e. optimal actions are adopted. This analysis identifies a structural property of information structures -- local independence -- which greatly facilitates social learning. Our analysis also suggests that there exists a negative relationship between the degree of social integration and the likelihood of diversity. Simulations of the model generate spatial and temporal patterns of adoption that are consistent with empirical work.

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File URL: http://repub.eur.nl/pub/1362/eeb19960111120062.pdf
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Paper provided by Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Econometric Institute in its series Econometric Institute Research Papers with number EI 9549-/A.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 1995
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Handle: RePEc:ems:eureir:1362
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Web page: http://www.eur.nl/ese

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  1. Ellison, Glenn & Fudenberg, Drew, 1993. "Rules of Thumb for Social Learning," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 612-43, August.
  2. Aghion, Philippe & Espinosa, Maria Paz & Jullien, Bruno, 1993. "Dynamic Duopoly with Learning through Market Experimentation," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 517-39, July.
  3. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
  4. 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.
  5. Bala, Venkatesh & Goyal, Sanjeev, 1995. "A Theory of Learning with Heterogeneous Agents," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(2), pages 303-23, May.
  6. Bala, Venkatesh & Goyal, Sanjeev, 1994. "The Birth of a New Market," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(423), pages 282-90, March.
  7. Arthur, W Brian, 1989. "Competing Technologies, Increasing Returns, and Lock-In by Historical Events," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 116-31, March.
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