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The Role of Social Networks in Bank Lending


  • Oliver Rehbein
  • Simon Rother


This paper analyzes social connectedness as an information channel in bank lending. We move beyond the inefficient lending between peers in exclusive networks by exploiting Facebook data that reflect social ties within the U.S. population. After accounting for physical and cultural distances, social connectedness increases cross-county lending, especially when lending requires more information and screening incentives are intact. On average, a standard-deviation increase in social connectedness increases cross-county lending by 24.5%, which offsets the lending barrier posed by 600 miles between borrower and lender. While the ex-ante risk of a loan is unrelated to social connectedness, borrowers from well-connected counties cause smaller losses if they default. Borrowers' counties tend to profit from their social proximity to bank lending, as GDP growth and employment increase with social proximity. Our results reveal the important role of social connectedness in bank lending, partly explain the large effects of physical distance, and suggest implications for antitrust policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Oliver Rehbein & Simon Rother, 2020. "The Role of Social Networks in Bank Lending," CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series crctr224_2020_162v2, University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:bon:boncrc:crctr224_2020_162v2

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Bailey & Drew Johnston & Martin Koenen & Theresa Kuchler & Dominic Russel & Johannes Stroebel, 2020. "Social Distancing during a Pandemic: The Role of Friends," CESifo Working Paper Series 8771, CESifo.
    2. Bailey, Michael & Gupta, Abhinav & Hillenbrand, Sebastian & Kuchler, Theresa & Richmond, Robert & Stroebel, Johannes, 2021. "International trade and social connectedness," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).
    3. Reint Gropp & Steven Ongena & Jörg Rocholl & Vahid Saadi, 2022. "The cleansing effect of banking crises," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 60(3), pages 1186-1213, July.
    4. Bittner, Christian & Fecht, Falko & Pala, Melissa & Saidi, Farzad, 2022. "Information transmission between banks and the market for corporate control," Discussion Papers 29/2022, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    5. Theresa Kuchler & Yan Li & Lin Peng & Johannes Stroebel & Dexin Zhou, 2022. "Social Proximity to Capital: Implications for Investors and Firms [Innovation and institutional ownership]," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 35(6), pages 2743-2789.
    6. Makridis, Christos A., 2022. "The social transmission of economic sentiment on consumption," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 148(C).
    7. Michael Bailey & Drew M. Johnston & Martin Koenen & Theresa Kuchler & Dominic Russel & Johannes Stroebel, 2020. "Social Networks Shape Beliefs and Behavior: Evidence from Social Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic," NBER Working Papers 28234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Andersen, Angela & Garel, Alexandre & Gilbert, Aaron & Tourani-Rad, Alireza, 2022. "Social capital, human capital, and board appointments," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 54(C).

    More about this item


    bank lending; social networks; information frictions; culture; distance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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