Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 1–37 | Cite as

More is different ... and complex! the case for agent-based macroeconomics

  • Giovanni DosiEmail author
  • Andrea Roventini
Regular Article


This work nests the Agent-Based macroeconomic perspective into the earlier history of macroeconomics. We discuss how the discipline in the 70’s took a perverse path relying on models grounded on fictitious rational representative agent in order to try to pathetically circumvent aggregation and coordination problems. The Great Recession was a natural experiment for macroeconomics, showing the inadequacy of the predominant theoretical framework grounded on DSGE models. After discussing the pathological fallacies of the DSGE-based approach, we claim that macroeconomics should consider the economy as a complex evolving system, i.e. as an ecology populated by heterogenous agents, whose far-from-equilibrium interactions continuously change the structure of the system. This in turn implies that more is different: macroeconomics cannot be shrink to representative-agent micro, but agents’ complex interactions lead to emergence of new phenomena and hierarchical structure at the macro level. This is what is taken into account by agent-based models, which provide a novel way to model complex economies from the bottom-up, with sound empirically-based microfoundations. We present the foundations of Agent-Based macroeconomics and we discuss how the contributions of this special issue push its frontier forward. Finally, we conclude by discussing the ways ahead for the fully acknowledgement of agent-based models as the standard way of theorizing in macroeconomics.


Macroeconomics Economic policy Keynesian theory New neoclassical synthesis New Keynesian models DSGE models Agent-based evolutionary models Complexity theory Great recession Crisis 

JEL Classification

B41 B50 E32 E52 



Thanks to Giorgio Fagiolo, Mattia Guerini, Francesco Lamperti, Alessio Moneta, Maria Enrica Virgillito. All usual disclaimers apply. This study was funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 grants: No. 649186 - Project ISIGrowth. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EMbeDS and Institute of EconomicsScuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPisaItaly
  2. 2.OFCE, Sciences PoParisFrance

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