Journal Article

Learning from Neighbours

Venkatesh Bala and Sanjeev Goyal

in The Review of Economic Studies

Published on behalf of Review of Economic Studies Ltd

Volume 65, issue 3, pages 595-621
Published in print July 1998 | ISSN: 0034-6527
Published online July 1998 | e-ISSN: 1467-937X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-937X.00059
Learning from Neighbours

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When payoffs from different actions are unknown, agents use their own past experience as well as the experience of their neighbours to guide their decision making. In this paper, we develop a general framework to study the relationship between the structure of these neighbourhoods and the process of social learning.

We show that, in a connected society, local learning ensures that all agents obtain the same payoffs in the long run. Thus, if actions have different payoffs, then all agents choose the same action, and social conformism obtains. We develop conditions on the distribution of prior beliefs, the structure of neighbourhoods and the informativeness of actions under which this action is optimal. In particular, we identify a property of neighbourhood structures—local independence—which greatly facilitates social learning. Simulations of the model generate spatial and temporal patterns of adoption that are consistent with empirical work.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Economics

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