Larry Samuelson

Larry Samuelson is A. Douglas Melamed Professor of Economics at Yale University.

  • Evolutionary Games and Equilibrium Selection

    Evolutionary Games and Equilibrium Selection

    Larry Samuelson

    The author examines the interplay between evolutionary game theory and the equilibrium selection problem in noncooperative games.

    Evolutionary game theory is one of the most active and rapidly growing areas of research in economics. Unlike traditional game theory models, which assume that all players are fully rational and have complete knowledge of details of the game, evolutionary models assume that people choose their strategies through a trial-and-error learning process in which they gradually discover that some strategies work better than others. In games that are repeated many times, low-payoff strategies tend to be weeded out, and an equilibrium may emerge. Larry Samuelson has been one of the main contributors to the evolutionary game theory literature. In Evolutionary Games and Equilibrium Selection, he examines the interplay between evolutionary game theory and the equilibrium selection problem in noncooperative games. After providing an overview of the basic issues of game theory and a presentation of the basic models, the book addresses evolutionary stability, the dynamics of sample paths, the ultimatum game, drift, noise, backward and forward induction, and strict Nash equilibria.

    • Hardcover $80.00
    • Paperback $34.00 £27.00


  • The Limits of Inference without Theory

    The Limits of Inference without Theory

    Kenneth I. Wolpin

    The role of theory in ex ante policy evaluations and the limits that eschewing theory places on inference

    In this rigorous and well-crafted work, Kenneth Wolpin examines the role of theory in inferential empirical work in economics and the social sciences in general—that is, any research that uses raw data to go beyond the mere statement of fact or the tabulation of statistics. He considers in particular the limits that eschewing the use of theory places on inference.

    Wolpin finds that the absence of theory in inferential work that addresses microeconomic issues is pervasive. That theory is unnecessary for inference is exemplified by the expression “let the data speak for themselves.” This approach is often called “reduced form.” A more nuanced view is based on the use of experiments or quasi-experiments to draw inferences. Atheoretical approaches stand in contrast to what is known as the structuralist approach, which requires that a researcher specify an explicit model of economic behavior—that is, a theory. Wolpin offers a rigorous examination of both structuralist and nonstructuralist approaches. He first considers ex ante policy evaluation, highlighting the role of theory in the implementation of parametric and nonparametric estimation strategies. He illustrates these strategies with two examples, a wage tax and a school attendance subsidy, and summarizes the results from applications. He then presents a number of examples that illustrate the limits of inference without theory: the effect of unemployment benefits on unemployment duration; the effect of public welfare on women's labor market and demographic outcomes; the effect of school attainment on earnings; and a famous field experiment in education dealing with class size. Placing each example within the context of the broader literature, he contrasts them to recent work that relies on theory for inference.

    • Hardcover $39.00 £30.00