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How can we measure the causal effects of social networks using observational data? Evidence from the diffusion of family planning and AIDS worries in South Nyanza District, Kenya

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Author Info

  • Jere R. Behrman
  • Hans-Peter Kohler

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Susan Cotts Watkins

Abstract

This study presents estimates that social networks exert causal and substantial influences on individuals’ attitudes and behaviors. The study explicitly allows for the possibility that social networks are not chosen randomly, but rather that important characteristics such as unobserved preferences and unobserved community characteristics determine not only the outcomes of interest but also the informal conversational networks in which they are discussed. Longitudinal survey data from rural Kenya on family-planning and AIDS are used to estimate the impact of social networks while controlling for their unobserved determinants. There are four major findings: First, the endogeneity of social networks can substantially distort the usual cross-sectional estimates of network influences. Second, social networks have significant and substantial effects even after controlling for unobserved factors that may determine the nature of the social networks. Third, these network effects generally are nonlinear and asymmetric. In particular, they are relatively large for individuals who have at least one network partner who is perceived to be using contraceptives or or to be at high risk of HIV/AIDS, which is consistent with S-shaped diffusion models that have been emphasized in the literature. Fourth, the effects of networks are not confined to the use of family planning by women, the focus of much of the literature on networks in demography, but appear to be more general, influencing responses to HIV/AIDS, and influencing men as well as women. (AUTHORS)

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File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/Papers/Working/wp-2001-022.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2001-022.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2001-022

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Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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References

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  2. Barbara Entwisle & Ronald Rindfuss & David Guilkey & Aphichat Chamratrithirong & Sara Curran & Yothin Sawangdee, 1996. "Community and contraceptive choice in rural Thailand: A case study of Nang Rong," Demography, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 1-11, February.
  3. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1996. "College Choice and Wages: Estimates Using Data on Female Twins," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 672-85, November.
  4. Jere R. Behrman & Anil B. Deolalikar, 1990. "The Intrahousehold Demand for Nutrients in Rural South India: Individual Estimates, Fixed Effects, and Permanent Income," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 665-696.
  5. Mark Rosenzweig & Andrew D. Foster, . "Technical Change and Human Capital Returns and Investments: Evidence from the Green Revolution," Home Pages _065, University of Pennsylvania.
  6. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-36, June.
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  8. Jere R. Behrman & Barbara L. Wolfe, 1989. "Does More Schooling Make Women Better Nourished and Healthier? Adult Sibling Random and Fixed Effects Estimates for Nicaragua," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(4), pages 644-663.
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  30. Behrman, Jere R. & Wolfe, Barbara L., 1987. "How does mother's schooling affect family health, nutrition, medical care usage, and household sanitation?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1-2), pages 185-204.
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Cited by:
  1. Julia Cordero Coma, 2013. "When the group encourages extramarital sex," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 28(30), pages 849-880, April.
  2. Santos, Paulo & Barrett, Christopher B., 2004. "Interest And Identity In Network Formation," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 19920, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  3. Oriana Bandiera & Imran Rasul, 2002. "Social Networks and Technology Adoption in Northern Mozambique," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 35, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  4. Harold Alderman & Jere R. Behrman & Hans-Peter Kohler & John A. Maluccio & Susan Watkins, 2001. "Attrition in Longitudinal Household Survey Data," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 5(4), pages 79-124, November.

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