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Strong Ties in a Small World


  • van der Leij Marco

    (University of Cambridge)

  • Goyal Sanjeev

    (University of Cambridge)


This paper examines the celebrated strength of weak ties theory of Granovetter (1973). We examine two hypotheses implied by the theory: one, for any three players with two links present, the probability of a third link being present is increasing in the strength of the two ties, and two, the removal of a weak tie breaks more shortest paths than the removal of a strong tie. This paper tests these hypotheses using data on co-authorship among economists. Our data supports the hypothesis of transitivity of strong ties, but it rejects the hypothesis that weak ties are more crucial than strong ties. We then propose an explanation for the strength of strong ties which builds on two properties of the network: one, significant inequality in the distribution of connections across individuals, and two, stronger ties among highly connected individuals.

Suggested Citation

  • van der Leij Marco & Goyal Sanjeev, 2011. "Strong Ties in a Small World," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-22, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:rneart:v:10:y:2011:i:2:n:1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sanjeev Goyal & Marco J. van der Leij & José Luis Moraga-Gonzalez, 2006. "Economics: An Emerging Small World," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 403-432, April.
    2. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Matthew O. Jackson, 2004. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 426-454, June.
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    7. Giulio Cainelli & Mario Maggioni & Erika Uberti & Annunziata De Felice, 2010. "The strength of strong ties: Co-authorship and productivity among Italian economists," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0125, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    8. Amedeo Piolatto & Florian Schuett, 2011. "A model of music piracy with popularity-dependent copying costs," Working Papers 2011/5, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
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    10. Andrikopoulos, Andreas & Economou, Labriana, 2016. "Coauthorship and subauthorship patterns in financial economics," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 12-19.
    11. Dotan Persitz, 2009. "Power in the Heterogeneous Connections Model: The Emergence of Core-Periphery Networks," Working Papers 2009.42, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
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    17. Susan Biancani & Daniel McFarland, 2013. "Social Networks Research in Higher Education," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 4, pages 85-126.
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    19. José Alcalde Pérez & José Angel Silva Reus & María del Carmen Marco Gil, 2010. "A new prospect of additivity in bankruptcy problems," Working Papers. Serie AD 2010-27, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    20. M. Angeles Carnero Fernández & Blanca Martínez & Rocío Sánchez Mangas, 2010. "Mobbing and workers' health: an empirical analysis for Spain," Working Papers. Serie AD 2010-30, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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