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Social Networks in Developing Countries


  • Yating Chuang
  • Laura Schechter

    () (Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706)


Social networks function as an important safety net in developing countries, which often lack formal financial instruments. Such networks are also an important source of information in developing countries with relatively low access to the Internet and literacy rates. We review the empirical literature that uses explicit social network data collected in developing countries. We focus on social networks as conduits for both monetary transfers and information. We also briefly discuss the network-formation literature and comment on data collection strategies, mentioning some areas we believe to be especially ripe for future study.

Suggested Citation

  • Yating Chuang & Laura Schechter, 2015. "Social Networks in Developing Countries," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 451-472, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reseco:v:7:y:2015:p:451-472

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    Cited by:

    1. Manchin, Miriam & Orazbayev, Sultan, 2018. "Social networks and the intention to migrate," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 360-374.
    2. Mbugua, Mercy & Nzuma, Jonathan, 2020. "Effect of social networks on household dietary diversity: Evidence from smallholder farmers in Kisii and Nyamira counties, Kenya," African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, African Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 15(3), September.
    3. Islam, Asadul & Ushchev, Philip & Zenou, Yves & Zhang, Xin, 2019. "The Value of Information in Technology Adoption," IZA Discussion Papers 12672, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Inken von Borzyskowski & Patrick M Kuhn, 2020. "Dangerously informed: Voter information and pre-electoral violence in Africa," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 57(1), pages 15-29, January.
    5. Ola, Oreoluwa & Menapace, Luisa, 2020. "Smallholders' perceptions and preferences for market attributes promoting sustained participation in modern agricultural value chains," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 97(C).
    6. Saxena, Vibhor & Bindal, Ishaan & LeMay-Boucher, Philippe, 2020. "Social groups and credit shocks: Evidence of inequalities in consumption smoothing," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 311-326.
    7. Vibhor Saxena & Ishaan Bindal & Philippe LeMay-Boucher, 2019. "Social groups and credit shocks: Evidence of inequalities in consumption smoothing," Discussion Paper Series, School of Economics and Finance 201901, School of Economics and Finance, University of St Andrews.
    8. Islam, Asadul & Ushchev, Philip & Zenou, Yves & Zhang, Xin, 2018. "The Value of Information in Technology Adoption: Theory and Evidence from Bangladesh," CEPR Discussion Papers 13419, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Blumenstock, Joshua & Chi, Guanghua & Tan, Xu, 2019. "Migration and the Value of Social Networks," CEPR Discussion Papers 13611, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Arun Advani & Bansi Malde, 2018. "Credibly Identifying Social Effects: Accounting For Network Formation And Measurement Error," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(4), pages 1016-1044, September.
    11. Sharmistha Self & Richard Grabowski, 2018. "Factors influencing knowledge of HIV/AIDS in Nepal: role of socioeconomic interactions," Journal of Social and Economic Development, Springer;Institute for Social and Economic Change, vol. 20(1), pages 174-191, April.
    12. Cynthia Kinnan & Krislert Samphantharak & Robert Townsend & Diego Vera-Cossio, 2019. "Insurance and Propagation in Village Networks," PIER Discussion Papers 115, Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research, revised Sep 2019.
    13. Haenssgen, Marco J. & Charoenboon, Nutcha & Zanello, Giacomo, 2021. "You’ve got a friend in me: How social networks and mobile phones facilitate healthcare access among marginalised groups in rural Thailand and Lao PDR," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).
    14. Mbugua, M. & Nzuma, J. & Muange, E. & Njuguna, M. & Jaeckering, L., 2018. "Social Networks and Household Dietary Diversity, Evidence from Smallholder Farmers in Kenya," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277341, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    15. Arun Advani & Bansi Malde, 2014. "Empirical methods for networks data: social effects, network formation and measurement error," IFS Working Papers W14/34, Institute for Fiscal Studies.

    More about this item


    social networks; technology adoption; information flows; development economics;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development


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