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An online experiment on network effects, feedback, and inequality
Eaman Jahani: email@example.com
The goal of this project is to show the existence and identify the extent of network feedback mechanisms that increase inter-group differences, thus contributing to network effects on inequality. In particular, we will analyze the repeated diffusion of a piece of information (originating from random sources according to a known distribution) access to which increases one’s utility. The repeated nature of this diffusion process could amplify individual or group differences in utility over time. For example, if a new employment opportunity is generated in each time period by different individuals and diffuses in the network, depending on network structure we might end up with a situation where employment becomes exclusive to one group. The research project involves development of the experiment as an online platform. Multiple players are laid out in a network and in each time period some of them randomly receive the approximate location of a gold mine on a grid. Players try to maximize their utility by collecting the gold over all rounds. The goldmine is a rivalrous good, as sharing it with others reduces one’s potential gain, but sharing it with others might still be a good idea for reciprocal sharing in the future. Our goal is to test various network structures and show that network structure has an important role in the final inter-group utility differences.