History and coordination failure

Alícia Adserà, Debraj Ray

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    An extensive literature discusses the existence of a virtuous circle of expectations that might lead communities to Pareto-superior states among multiple potential equilibria. It is generally accepted that such multiplicity stems fundamentally from the presence of positive agglomeration externalities. We examine a two-sector model in this class and look for intertemporal perfect foresight equilibria. It turns out that under some plausible conditions, positive externalities must coexist with external diseconomies elsewhere in the model, for there to exist equilibria that break free of historical initial conditions. Our main distinguishing assumption is that the positive agglomeration externalities appear with a time lag (that can be made vanishingly small). Then, in the absence of external diseconomies elsewhere, the long-run behaviour of the economy resembles that predicted by myopic adjustment. This finding is independent of the degree of forward-looking behavior exhibited by the agents.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)267-276
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Economic Growth
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Sep 1998


    • Coordination failure
    • Development
    • Externalities
    • Initial conditions
    • Self-fulfilling expectations

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics


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