School of Economics and Finance

No. 792: The Principle of Minimum Differentiation Revisited: Return of the Median Voter

Nobuyuki Hanaki , GREDEG, Université Nice Sophia-Antipolis, Skema Business School, and Université Côte d’Azur
Emily Tanimura , Université Paris 1
Nicolaas J. Vriend , Queen Mary University of London

April 5, 2016

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We study a linear location model (Hotelling, 1929) in which n (with n ≥ 2) boundedly rational players follow (noisy) myopic best-reply behavior. We show through numerical and mathematical analysis that such players spend almost all the time clustered together near the center, re-establishing the "Principle of Minimum Differentiation" that had been discredited by equilibrium analyses. Thus, our analysis of the best-response dynamics shows that when considering market dynamics as well as their policy and welfare implications, it may be important to look beyond equilibrium analyses.

J.E.L classification codes: C72, D72, L13, R30

Keywords:Hotelling location model, Principle of Minimum Differentiation, Nash equilibrium, Best-response dynamics, Stochastic stability, Invariant measures