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Social Networks as Contract Enforcement: Evidence from a Lab Experiment in the Field

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  • Arun G. Chandrasekhar
  • Cynthia Kinnan
  • Horacio Larreguy

Abstract

Lack of well-functioning formal institutions leads to reliance on social networks to enforce informal contracts. Social proximity and network centrality may affect cooperation. To assess the extent to which networks substitute for enforcement, we conducted high-stakes games across 34 Indian villages. We randomized subjects' partners and whether contracts were enforced to estimate how partners' relative network position differentially matters across contracting environments. While socially close pairs cooperate even without enforcement, distant pairs do not. Individuals with more central partners behave more cooperatively without enforcement. Capacity for cooperation in the absence of contract enforcement, therefore, depends on the subjects' network position.

Suggested Citation

  • Arun G. Chandrasekhar & Cynthia Kinnan & Horacio Larreguy, 2018. "Social Networks as Contract Enforcement: Evidence from a Lab Experiment in the Field," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 43-78, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:10:y:2018:i:4:p:43-78
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.20150057
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Joshua Evan Blumenstock & Nathan Eagle & Marcel Fafchamps, 2011. "Risk and Reciprocity Over the Mobile Phone Network: Evidence from Rwanda," Working Papers 11-25, NET Institute, revised Sep 2011.
    2. Javier Mejia, 2018. "Social Networks and Entrepreneurship. Evidence from a Historical Episode of Industrialization," Working Papers 20180020, New York University Abu Dhabi, Department of Social Science, revised Sep 2018.
    3. Abhijit Banerjee & Arun G. Chandrasekhar & Esther Duflo & Matthew O. Jackson, 2012. "The Diffusion of Microfinance," NBER Working Papers 17743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Brian Dillon & Joachim De Weerdt & Ted O’Donoghue, 2017. "Paying More For Less: Why Don't Households In Tanzania Take Advantage Of Bulk Discounts?," LICOS Discussion Papers 39617, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    5. Brune, Lasse & Gine, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Yang, Dean, 2011. "Commitments to save : a field experiment in rural Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5748, The World Bank.
    6. Dean Karlan & Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan & Jonathan Zinman, 2014. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(1), pages 36-78, March.
    7. A Stefano Caria & Simon Franklin & Marc Witte, 2018. "Searching with friends," CSAE Working Paper Series 2018-14, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    8. Jonathan Robinson, 2012. "Limited Insurance within the Household: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 140-164, October.
    9. Hoang & Laure Pasquier-Doumer & Camille Saint-Macary, 2018. "Ethnicity and risk sharing network formation: Evidence from rural Viet Nam," Working Papers DT/2018/15, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    10. Binzel, Christine & Fehr, Dietmar, 2013. "Giving and sorting among friends: Evidence from a lab-in-the-field experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(2), pages 214-217.
    11. Vera Mironova & Egor Lazarev, 2013. "Minority Status and Investment: Evidence from Natural and Lab Experiments in Bosnia and Herzegovina1," HiCN Working Papers 162, Households in Conflict Network.
    12. Uri Gneezy & Alex Imas, 2016. "Lab in the Field: Measuring Preferences in the Wild," CESifo Working Paper Series 5953, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Why Don't the Poor Save More? Evidence from Health Savings Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1138-1171, June.
    14. Landmann, Andreas & Vollan, Björn & Frölich, Markus, 2011. "Saving, Microinsurance: Why You Should Do Both or Nothing. A Behavioral Experiment on the Philippines," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 51, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    15. Emily Breza & Arun G. Chandrasekhar, 2015. "Social Networks, Reputation and Commitment: Evidence from a Savings Monitors Experiment," NBER Working Papers 21169, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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