The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Social Learning

  • Kaivan Munshi
Reference work entry


Social learning describes the process whereby individuals learn about a new and uncertain technology from the decisions and experiences of their neighbours. Because information must flow sequentially from one neighbour to the next, social learning provides a natural explanation for the gradual diffusion of new technology that is commonly observed. It can also explain the wide variation in the response to external interventions across communities as a consequence of the randomness in the information signals that they receive. Social learning has been associated with the adoption of new agricultural technology, the fertility transition, and investments in education in developing countries.


Agriculture Diffusion of technology Family planning Fertility transition Green Revolution Learning Religion Returns to schooling Social interactions Social learning Social norms Uncertainty 

JEL Classifications

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kaivan Munshi
    • 1
  1. 1.