Abstract: What can we learn from the failures of a selection system? Suppose agents with trait X are more likely to survive than agents who lack this trait. Does it follow that failure to survive is an indication of absence of the trait X? This paper shows that this conclusion does not follow. Rather, when a selection system has reached equilibrium, failure is not informative about traits. Specifically: the distribution of traits for units that fail to survive will, in the long run, be identical to the distribution of traits of entrants into the system. Thus, knowing that an agent has failed to survive provides no new information about the traits of this agent. Survival in a selection system, on the other hand, remains informative, i.e., agents that survive are more likely to have the trait X.
Noyce Conference Room
Jerker Denrell (University of Warwick; MIT)
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