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    ABSTRACT: We study observational learning in environments with congestion costs: an agent's payoff from choosing an action decreases as more predecessors choose that action. Herds cannot occur if congestion on every action can get so large that an agent prefers a different action regardless of his beliefs about the state. To the extent that switching away from the more popular action reveals private information, it improves learning. The absence of herding does not guarantee complete (asymptotic) learning, however, as information cascades can occur through perpetual but uninformative switching between actions. We provide conditions on congestion costs that guarantee complete learning and conditions that guarantee bounded learning. Learning can be virtually complete even if each agent has only an infinitesimal effect on congestion costs. We apply our results to markets where congestion costs arise through responsive pricing and to queuing problems where agents dislike waiting for service.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2014 · Games and Economic Behavior
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    ABSTRACT: Findings from neuroimaging are increasingly being cited in policy debates to strengthen the case for early identification of, and intervention with, children at risk of maltreatment and poor outcomes. While agreeing that neuroscientific research into the risks of maltreatment is a very valuable and exciting area of study, this article challenges the confidence with which these findings are used in policy discussions. It critically discusses the reliability and validity of the relevant findings and the contribution they can currently make to our understanding of the causes and consequences of maltreatment. In addition, it is argued that this type of evidence, which is new in policy debates, is often being used in ways that are problematic. Many participants in the relevant policy debates seem to subscribe either to an implicit version of dualism about the relationship between the mind and the body, or to reductionism – the view that the mental can be reduced to the physical. Such assumptions threaten the way we think about human agency and moral responsibility but it is argued that they are misguided for conceptual reasons. It is concluded that neuroscience has the potential to contribute to our understanding of the causes and effects of maltreatment but cannot do so in isolation from the social sciences.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Children and Youth Services Review
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    ABSTRACT: We consider dynamic decision making in a legislature, in which in each period legislators vote between the status quo (previous periodʼs policy) and a new bill. However, the agenda formation process is captured by interest groups, that is, the new bill on the agenda is determined by an all-pay auction among these groups. We show that convergence to the median voter of the legislature arises if interest groups are patient enough but not necessarily otherwise. We characterize the bound on the speed of convergence in a family of stationary equilibria in which policy bounces between right-wing and left-wing policies. We also show that convergence may be faster if organized interest groups represent only one side of the policy space, e.g., when only business and not consumer interests are organized.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2013 · Journal of Economic Theory
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