Oral Defense of Doctoral Dissertation – Computational Social Science – The Emergence of Self-government: Agentizing Acemoglu and Robinson – Elaine Reed

Notice and Invitation
Oral Defense of Doctoral Dissertation
Doctor of Philosophy in Computational Social Science
Department of Computational and Data Sciences
College of Science
George Mason University

Elaine Reed
Bachelor of Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1985
Master of Science, George Washington University, 1989

The Emergence of Self-government:
Agentizing Acemoglu and Robinson

Thursday, November 30, 1:30 p.m.
Research Hall, Room 91

All are invited to attend.

Robert Axtell, Dissertation Director
Andrew Crooks
Richard Wagner

Institutions are created by people interacting in complex ways with others in their socio-economic environment. A study of institutions should therefore study the people and interactions that create them. Acemoglu and Robinson (hereafter A&R) developed a game-theoretic framework for analyzing how economic incentives influence the way social groups shape institutions to allocate political and economic power. The A&R models assume groups or classes of people are completely rational and identical intra-group. Analytical difficulties impede A&R from exploring more realistic interactions. This dissertation utilizes an agent-based computational methodology to represent a subset of the A&R models. The computational model permits agents to be heterogeneous, which can affect outcomes at the group and aggregate levels. Specifically, with intra-group homogeneity the agent-based model reproduces the group-level threshold conditions affecting institutional choices found by A&R. I show that these results are robust to parameter changes within the ranges defined by A&R. However, I then relax the intra-group homogeneity assumption, allowing exploration of the roles of income distributions and bounded intelligence on the larger outcomes for all groups. The population structure with heterogeneity can include a more realistic middle class. Modeling a middle class by using agent-based models with heterogeneous agents finds that the effect of a middle class is non-linear. This dissertation demonstrates the usefulness of agent-based modeling as a viable alternative quantitative methodology for studying complex institutions.

A copy of Elaine’s dissertation is available for examination from Karen Underwood, Department of Computational and Data Sciences, 373 Research Hall. The dissertation is available to read only within the Department and cannot be taken out of the Department or copied.