March 2005

IZA DP No. 1538: Limited Attention as the Scarce Resource in an Information-Rich Economy

published in: Economic Journal, Vol. 118, 2008, 1596-1620

This paper uses basic empirical facts from attention and perception psychology for a behavioral approach to equilibrium analysis at the industry and the macroeconomic level. The paper endogenously determines whether an economy is information-rich and whether scarcity of attention complements economic scarcity. A conventional economic equilibrium results if subjects have free attention capacity. At the positive level, the impacts of IT-progress, international integration and media on equilibrium diversity and level of attention-seeking activities are shown. At the normative level, welfare, efficiency and optimal policy interventions are characterized. Finally, behavioral effects of intensified attention-seeking on market power, sectoral economic structure and work-leisure choice are considered.