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Can Farmers Create Efficient Information Networks? Experimental Evidence from Rural India

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  • A. Stefano Caria
  • Marcel Fafchamps

Abstract

We run an artefactual field experiment in rural India which tests whether farmers can create efficient networks in a repeated link formation game, and whether group categorization results in homophily and loss of network efficiency. We find that the efficiency of the networks formed in the experiment is significantly lower than the efficiency which could be achieved under selfish, rational play. Many individual decisions are consistent with selfish rationality and with a concern for overall welfare, but the tendency to link with the ‘most popular’ farmer in the network causes large efficiency losses. When information about group membership is disclosed, social networks become more homophilous, but not significantly less efficient. Networks play an important role in the diffusion of innovations in developing countries. If they are inefficiently structured, there is scope for development policies that support diffusion.

Suggested Citation

  • A. Stefano Caria & Marcel Fafchamps, 2015. "Can Farmers Create Efficient Information Networks? Experimental Evidence from Rural India," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-07, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2015-07
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    1. repec:eee:jeborg:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:567-591 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Margherita Comola & Marcel Fafchamps, 2015. "An Experimental Study of Decentralized Link Formation with Competition," NBER Working Papers 21758, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Comola, Margherita & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2018. "An experimental study on decentralized networked markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 567-591.

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