Fifteen years after the Global Financial Crisis: Recessions and Business Cycles in the History of Economic Thought

Agent-Based Models: impact and interdisciplinary influences in economics

Muriel Dal Pont Legrand, Université Côte d'Azur
Alexandre Truc, Université Côte d'Azur

Great attention has been paid to what computational methods can do for economists (Colander, 2015), how it transformed the relationship between theoretical and applied work (Backhouse and Cherrier, 2017) or its potential relevance for economics or contemporary historical and philosophical questions (Colander, 2014; David et al., 2020). Among the different computational methods that have recently emerged in economics, agent-based computational economics is often identified as one research program that both challenges the frontiers of economics and (sometimes) some of its core tenants and traditions. One particular challenge with writing the history of agent-based economics is that the nature of the field is relatively unclear. Agent-based economics can be considered both a research program (a community of researchers) and a tool (a method not bound to a theme or particular research program). The present paper proposes to investigate the diffusion agent-based models in economics to better understand how the tool itself led to the emergence of a well-identified research field or not. We combine the use of traditional methods of the history of economics with scientometrics to investigate the nature of agent-based models in economics. The first important result of our study is that agent-based models led to the emergence of different heterogeneous research specialties in economics that are not part of one coherent research program. A second important result is that interdisciplinarity is a structuring force to understand the heterogeneity in the way agent-based models are adopted in economics. Agent-based models being themselves imported from other disciplines, they are with- out a doubt part of the interdisciplinarity process, but one cannot ignore that once introduced in economics, they might become in turn the vehicles for concepts or models imported from other disciplines. In some cases, agent-based models are used to strengthen the relationship between economics and other disciplines (e.g., environmental sciences), while in others it is simply imported as a tool to pursue purely epistemic economics-oriented goals (e.g., macroeconomics). More generally, this paper reveals the history of a specific episode in computational economics that can help to guide future research on the history of recently emerging subfields as well as on the history of complexity economics.

Area: Eshet Conference

Keywords: Recent history of economics, Agent-Based; Complexity economics, Interdisciplinarity; Social Network Analysis

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