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Social Interactions and Economic Behavior

  • Giulio Zanella


This paper is a critical introduction to the new wave of economic literature on the effect of social interactions on individual behavior and aggregate economic outcomes. I refer to this research program, also known as new social economics, as the socioeconomic analysis of behavior, to distinguish it from the more popular economic analysis of social behavior. I discuss the main features of so-called interactions-based models, and I show how they help us to understand substantive economic phenomena. In order to restrict the focus, I choose five possible applications: matching in the labor market, welfare participation, poverty traps and inequality, investor behavior, and consumer behavior. Then I dwell upon two key undecided questions: (i) why economic behavior is affected by social interactions, and (ii) how the social context is shaped by rational individuals. Finally, I briefly discuss the main empirical routes so far used.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 441.

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Date of creation: Nov 2004
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Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:441
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