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

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  • Büchel, Konstantin

    (University of Bern and CRED)

  • Ehrlich, Maximilian v.

    (University of Bern, CAGE, CRED, and CESifo)

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 find that distance is highly detrimental to interpersonal exchange. We show that, despite distance-related costs, urban residents do not 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

  • Büchel, Konstantin & Ehrlich, Maximilian v., 2018. "Cities and the Structure of Social Interactions: Evidence from Mobile Phone Data," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 356, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:356
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    10. Yusra Ghafoor & Yi-Shin Chen & Kuan-Ta Chen, 2019. "Social Interaction Scaling for Contact Networks," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(9), pages 1-14, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic Geography; Agglomeration Economies; Social Interactions; Network Analysis; Spatial Sorting JEL Classification: R10; R23; D83; D85; Z13.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation

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