The identification power of equilibrium in simple games

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We examine the identification power that (Nash) equilibrium assumptions play in conducting inference about parameters in some simple games. We focus on three static games in which we drop the Nash equilibrium assumption and instead use rationalizability as the basis for strategic play. The first example examines a bivariate discrete game with complete information of the kind studied in entry models. The second example considers the incomplete-information version of the discrete bivariate game. Finally, the third example considers a first-price auction with independent private values. In each example, we study the inferential question of what can be learned about the parameter of interest using a random sample of observations, under level-k rationality, where k is an integer ≥ 1. As k increases, our identified set shrinks, limiting to the identified set under full rationality or rationalizability (as k → ∞). This is related to the concepts of iterated dominance and higher-order beliefs, which are incorporated into the econometric analysis in our framework. We are then able to categorize what can be learned about the parameters in a model under various maintained levels of rationality, highlighting the roles of different assumptions. We provide constructive identification results that lead naturally to consistent estimators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-283
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Business and Economic Statistics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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