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Migration and the Value of Social Networks

Author

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  • Blumenstock, Joshua
  • Chi, Guanghua
  • Tan, Xu

Abstract

What is the value of a social network? Prior work suggests two distinct mechanisms that have historically been difficult to differentiate: as a conduit of information, and as a source of social and economic support. We use a rich 'digital trace' dataset to link the migration decisions of millions of individuals to the topological structure of their social networks. We find that migrants systematically prefer 'interconnected' networks (where friends have common friends) to 'expansive' networks (where friends are well connected). A micro-founded model of network-based social capital helps explain this preference: migrants derive more utility from networks that are structured to facilitate social support than from networks that efficiently transmit information.

Suggested Citation

  • Blumenstock, Joshua & Chi, Guanghua & Tan, Xu, 2019. "Migration and the Value of Social Networks," CEPR Discussion Papers 13611, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13611
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    Cited by:

    1. Panle Jia Barwick & Yanyan Liu & Eleonora Patacchini & Qi Wu, 2019. "Information, Mobile Communication, and Referral Effects," NBER Working Papers 25873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Anandi Mani & Emma Riley, 2019. "Social networks, role models, peer effects, and aspirations," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-120, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Simone Bertoli & Ilse Ruyssen, 2018. "Networks and migrants’ intended destination," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 705-728.
    4. Selod, Harris & Shilpi, Forhad, 2021. "Rural-urban migration in developing countries: Lessons from the literature," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    5. Tian, Yuan & Caballero, Maria Esther & Kovak, Brian K., 2022. "Social learning along international migrant networks," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 195(C), pages 103-121.
    6. Harshil Sahai & Michael Bailey, 2022. "Social Networks and Spatial Mobility: Evidence from Facebook in India," Papers 2203.05595, arXiv.org.
    7. Selod, Harris & Shilpi, Forhad, 2021. "Rural-urban migration in developing countries: Lessons from the literature," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    8. László Lőrincz & Brigitta Németh, 2022. "How Social Capital is Related to Migration Between Communities?," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 38(5), pages 1119-1143, December.
    9. Maxim Ananyev & Michael Poyker & Yuan Tian, 2021. "The safest time to fly: pandemic response in the era of Fox News," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(3), pages 775-802, July.
    10. Büchel, Konstantin & Ehrlich, Maximilian V. & Puga, Diego & Viladecans-Marsal, Elisabet, 2020. "Calling from the outside: The role of networks in residential mobility," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C).
    11. Lea-Maria Löbel & Hannes Kröger & Ana Nanette Tibubos, 2021. "Social Isolation and Loneliness in the Context of Migration: A Cross-Sectional Study of Refugees, Migrants, and the Native Population in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1124, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    12. Beine, Michel & Bertinelli, Luisito & Cömertpay, Rana & Litina, Anastasia & Maystadt, Jean-François, 2021. "A gravity analysis of refugee mobility using mobile phone data," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C).
    13. Toman Barsbai & Victoria Licuanan & Andreas Steinmayr & Erwin Tiongson & Dean Yang, 2020. "Information and the Acquisition of Social Network Connections," NBER Working Papers 27346, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Kirchberger, Martina, 2021. "Measuring internal migration," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    15. Richard Serbeh & Prince Osei-Wusu Adjei, 2020. "Social Networks and the Geographies of Young People’s Migration: Evidence from Independent Child Migration in Ghana," Journal of International Migration and Integration, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 221-240, March.
    16. Meenakshi Fernandes & d'Artis Kancs & Cecilia Navarra, 2021. "Legal migration policy and law," EERI Research Paper Series EERI RP 2021/10, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Big Data; Development; migration; networks; social capital; Social Networks;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C55 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Large Data Sets: Modeling and Analysis
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • 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

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