Document Type

Discussion Paper

Publication Date


CFDP Number


CFDP Revision Date


CFDP Pages


Journal of Economic Literature (JEL) Code(s)

D81, D83, O33


We build a model studying the effect of an economy’s potential for social learning on the adoption of innovations of uncertain quality. Provided consumers are forward-looking (i.e., recognize the value of waiting for information), we show how quantitative and qualitative features of the learning environment affect observed adoption dynamics, welfare, and the speed of learning. Our analysis has two main implications. First, we identify environments that are subject to a “saturation effect,” whereby increased opportunities for social learning can slow down adoption and learning and do not increase consumer welfare, possibly even being harmful. Second, we show how differences in the learning environment translate into observable differences in adoption dynamics, suggesting a purely informational channel for two commonly documented adoption patterns—S-shaped and concave curves.

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Economics Commons