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Social network capital, economic mobility and poverty traps

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  • Sommarat Chantarat

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  • Christopher Barrett

Abstract

This paper explores the role social network capital might play in facilitating poor agents’ escape from poverty traps. We model and simulate endogenous link formation among households heterogeneously endowed with both traditional and social network capital who make investment and technology choices over time in the absence of financial markets and faced with multiple production technologies featuring different fixed costs and returns. We show that social network capital can either complement or substitute for productive assets in facilitating some poor households’ escape from poverty. However, the voluntary nature of costly link formation also creates exclusionary mechanisms that impede some poor households’ use of social network capital. Through numerical simulation, we show that the ameliorative potential of social networks therefore depends fundamentally on the broader socio-economic wealth distribution in the economy, which determines the feasibility of social interactions and the net intertemporal benefits resulting from endogenous network formation. In some settings, targeted public transfers to the poor can crowd-in private resources by inducing new social links that the poor can exploit to escape from poverty. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Sommarat Chantarat & Christopher Barrett, 2012. "Social network capital, economic mobility and poverty traps," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 10(3), pages 299-342, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecinq:v:10:y:2012:i:3:p:299-342
    DOI: 10.1007/s10888-011-9164-5
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    1. Jaramillo, Fernando & Kempf, Hubert & Moizeau, Fabien, 2015. "Heterogeneity and the formation of risk-sharing coalitions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 79-96.
    2. Sonia Di Giannatale & María José Roa, 2016. "Formal Saving in Developing Economies: Barriers, Interventions, and Effects," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 8107, Inter-American Development Bank.
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    4. Bhattamishra, Ruchira & Barrett, Christopher B., 2010. "Community-Based Risk Management Arrangements: A Review," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 923-932, July.
    5. Lyndon Walker & Peter Davis, 2013. "Modelling "Marriage Markets": A Population-Scale Implementation and Parameter Test," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 16(1), pages 1-6.
    6. Sonia Di Giannatale & Alexander Elbittar & Patricia López-Rodríguez & María-José Roa-García, 2013. "Trust, Information Acquisition and Financial Decisions: A Field Experiment," Economía Mexicana NUEVA ÉPOCA, , vol. 0(2), pages 375-401, July-Dece.
    7. Tiago V. V. Cavalcanti & Chryssi Giannitsarou, 2017. "Growth and Human Capital: A Network Approach," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(603), pages 1279-1317, August.
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    9. Zhaohui Chong & Chenglin Qin & Xinyue Ye, 2016. "Environmental Regulation, Economic Network and Sustainable Growth of Urban Agglomerations in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(5), pages 1-21, May.
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    11. Francesco Farina, 2015. "Development theory and poverty. A review," Working Papers 46-2015, Macerata University, Department of Studies on Economic Development (DiSSE), revised Jan 2015.
    12. Sonia Di Giannatale & María José Roa, 2016. "Formal Saving in Developing Economies: Barriers, Interventions, and Effects," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 97397, Inter-American Development Bank.
    13. Jia, Xiangping, 2009. "Synergistic Green and White Revolution: Evidence from Kenya and Uganda," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 51367, International Association of Agricultural Economists.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social network capital; Endogenous network formation; Poverty traps; Multiple equilibria; Social isolation; Social exclusion; Crowding-in transfer; D85; I32; O12; Z13;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation

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