P19: Social networks

PIs: Steiner (leading), Vollmer, Wagener

Social networks have traditionally not been a field of study for economists. This has changed over the last years. One reason is that economists now intend to build better models of human behavior, in which they recognize that people interact with others and thereby shape each other's attitudes and actions. Another reason is the dramatic change in communication technologies and the explosion of social media that allow people to link with others in a previously unthinkable manner. In developing countries, social networks play a major role in at least two ways: as a system in which risk sharing takes place and as the often only source of information.

In this project, we focus on such exchange of risk-sharing transfers as well as information within social networks. We investigate whether and how social networks change as a result of major interventions, such as the introduction of insurance or massive labor migration out of rural areas, which would in turn change how risk is shared and how information is spread.

Possible dissertation topics:

  • Health choices as a function of information within social networks
  • Changes in social networks in response to migration
  • Social stratification in social networks