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Limited farsightedness in network formation

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Working paper
Georg Kirchsteiger, Marco Mantovani, Ana Mauleon and Vincent Vannetelbosch
Issue number: 
Pairwise stability Jackson and Wolinsky [1996] is the standard stability concept in network formation. It assumes myopic behavior of the agents in the sense that they do not forecast how others might react to their actions. Assuming that agents are perfectly farsighted, related stability concepts have been proposed. We design a simple network formation experiment to test these extreme theories, but find evidence against both of them: the subjects are consistent with an intermediate rule of behavior, which we interpret as a form of limited farsightedness. On aggregate, the selection among multiple pairwise stable networks (and the performance of farsighted stability) crucially depends on the level of farsightedness needed to sustain them, and not on efficiency or cooperative considerations. Individual behavior analysis corroborates this interpretation, and suggests, in general, a low level of farsightedness (around two steps) on the part of the agents.
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