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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.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Review of Network Economics.

Volume (Year): 10 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 1-22

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:rneart:v:10:y:2011:i:2:n:1
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  1. Matt Jackson, 2003. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000032, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Sanjeev Goyal & Marco van der Leij & José Luis Moraga-Gonzàlez, 2004. "Economics: An Emerging Small World?," Working Papers 2004.84, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
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