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The Signaling Value of Online Social Networks: Lessons from Peer-to-Peer Lending

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  • Seth Freedman
  • Ginger Zhe Jin

Abstract

We examine whether social networks facilitate online markets using data from a leading peer-to-peer lending website. Borrowers with social ties are consistently more likely to have their loans funded and receive lower interest rates. However, most social loans do not perform better ex post, except for loans with endorsements from friends contributing to the loan or loans with group characteristics most likely to provide screening and monitoring. We also find evidence of gaming on borrower participation in social networks. Overall, our findings suggest that return-maximizing lenders should be careful in interpreting social ties within the risky pool of social borrowers.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19820.

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Date of creation: Jan 2014
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19820

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  1. Kosuke Uetake & Ken ONISHI & Kei Kawai, 2013. "Signaling in Online Credit Markets," 2013 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 516, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Rafael Gomez & Eric Santor, 2003. "Do Peer Group Members Outperform Individual Borrowers? A Test of Peer Group Lending Using Canadian Micro-Credit Data," Working Papers 03-33, Bank of Canada.
  3. Daniel Paravisini & Veronica Rappoport & Enrichetta Ravina, 2010. "Risk Aversion and Wealth: Evidence from Person-to-Person Lending Portfolios," NBER Working Papers 16063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gregory Lewis, 2011. "Asymmetric Information, Adverse Selection and Online Disclosure: The Case of eBay Motors," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1535-46, June.
  5. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1995. "Group lending, repayment incentives and social collateral," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-18, February.
  6. Karlan, Dean & Gine, Xavier, 2009. "Group versus Individual Liability: Long Term Evidence from Philippine Microcredit Lending Groups," Working Papers 61, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  7. Jonathan Morduch, 1999. "The Microfinance Promise," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1569-1614, December.
  8. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital and Predict Financial Decisions," Working Papers 182, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  9. Ginger Zhe Jin & Andrew Kato, 2007. "Dividing Online and Offline: A Case Study," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 981-1004.
  10. Beatriz Armendáriz & Jonathan Morduch, 2010. "The Economics of Microfinance, Second Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262014106, December.
  11. Ajay K. Agrawal & Christian Catalini & Avi Goldfarb, 2011. "The Geography of Crowdfunding," NBER Working Papers 16820, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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