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Cities and the Structure of Social Interactions: Evidence from Mobile Phone Data

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  • Konstantin Büchel
  • Maximilian von Ehrlich

Abstract

Social interactions are considered pivotal to agglomeration economies. We explore a unique dataset on mobile phone calls to examine how distance and population density shape the structure of social interactions. Exploiting an exogenous change in travel times, we show that distance is highly detrimental to interpersonal exchange. Despite distance-related costs, we find no evidence that urban residents benefit from larger networks when spatial sorting is accounted for. Higher density rather generates a more efficient network in terms of matching and clustering. These differences in network structure capitalize into land prices, corroborating the hypothesis that agglomeration economies operate via network efficiency.

Suggested Citation

  • Konstantin Büchel & Maximilian von Ehrlich, 2017. "Cities and the Structure of Social Interactions: Evidence from Mobile Phone Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 6568, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6568
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    Cited by:

    1. Picard, Pierre M. & Zenou, Yves, 2018. "Urban spatial structure, employment and social ties," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 77-93.
    2. Kim, Jun Sung & Patacchini, Eleonora & Picard, Pierre M. & Zenou, Yves, 2017. "Urban Interactions," Working Paper Series 1192, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social interactions; agglomeration externalities; network analysis; spatial sorting;

    JEL classification:

    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • 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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