Germs, Social Networks and Growth

Alessandra Fogli, Laura Veldkamp

NBER Working Paper No. 18470
Issued in October 2012
NBER Program(s):   DEV   EFG

Does the pattern of social connections between individuals matter for macroeconomic outcomes? If so, how does this effect operate and how big is it? Using network analysis tools, we explore how different social structures affect technology diffusion and thereby a country's rate of technological progress. The network model also explains why societies with a high prevalence of contagious disease might evolve toward growth-inhibiting social institutions and how small initial differences can produce large divergence in incomes. Empirical work uses differences in the prevalence of diseases spread by human contact and the prevalence of other diseases as an instrument to identify an effect of social structure on technology diffusion.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18470

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