Social Econometrics

This research project develops tools that allow social scientists to understand how and when social factors, such as peer influences, role models, or norms, affect individual choices.

Within economics, there has been increasing recognition that conventional economic models of individual decision making are inadequate to explain a host of individual and aggregate behavioral outcomes, ranging from the smoking choices of adolescents to the degree of financial market volatility. One manifestation of this recognition is the growth and success of the field of behavioral economics, whose objectives may be understood as an effort to incorporate richer cognitive psychology and richer conceptions of preferences into traditional economic decision making models. Another manifestation of new efforts to expand traditional economic conceptions of decision making falls under the rubric of social economics, which represents a good faith effort to integrate sociological and social psychology into economic analysis. This project involves research in social economics with a specific focus on understanding how evidence of social influences on individual decisions and aggregate outcomes may be marshaled.