Structural modeling of economic choices of heterogeneous agents

Epidemiological Expectations in Economics

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Abstract

‘Epidemiological’ models of belief formation put social interactions at their core; such models are the main (almost, the only) tool used by non-economists to study the dynamics of beliefs in populations. We survey the (comparatively) small literature in which economists attempting to model the consequences of beliefs about the future – ‘expectations’ – have employed what we view as a full-fledged epidemiological approach to explore an economic question. We draw connections to related work on narrative economics, news/rumor spreading, ‘contagion,’ and the spread of online content. Finally, we discuss a number of promising directions for future research.

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