Social learning and the shadow of the past

Yuval Heller, Erik Mohlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In various environments new agents may base their decisions on observations of actions taken by a few other agents in the past. In this paper we analyze a broad class of such social learning processes, and study under what circumstances the initial behavior of the population has a lasting effect. Our results show that this question strongly depends on the expected number of actions observed by new agents. Specifically, we show that if the expected number of observed actions is: (1) less than one, then the population converges to the same behavior independently of the initial state; (2) between one and two, then in some (but not all) environments there are decision rules for which the initial state has a lasting impact on future behavior; and (3) more than two, then in all environments there is a decision rule for which the initial state has a lasting impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-460
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Economic Theory
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sept 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economics and Business

Free keywords

  • Path dependence
  • Social learning
  • Steady state
  • Unique limiting behavior


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