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Social Capital and Social Quilts: Network Patterns of Favor Exchange

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  • Matthew O. Jackson
  • Tomas Rodriguez-Barraquer
  • Xu Tan

Abstract

We examine the informal exchange of favors in societies such that any two individuals interact too infrequently to sustain exchange, but such that the social pressure of the possible loss of multiple relationships can sustain exchange. Patterns of exchange that are locally enforceable and renegotiation-proof necessitate that all links are "supported": any two individuals exchanging favors have a common friend. In symmetric settings, such robust networks are "social quilts": tree-like unions of completely connected subnetworks. Examining favor exchange networks in 75 villages in rural India, we find high levels of support and identify characteristics that correlate with support. (JEL D85, O12, O18, Z13)

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew O. Jackson & Tomas Rodriguez-Barraquer & Xu Tan, 2012. "Social Capital and Social Quilts: Network Patterns of Favor Exchange," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 1857-1897, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:5:p:1857-97
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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