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How can we measure the causal effects of social networks using observational data? Evidence from the diffusion of family planning and AIDS worries in South Nyanza District, Kenya

Listed author(s):
  • Jere R. Behrman
  • Hans-Peter Kohler

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Susan Cotts Watkins

This study presents estimates that social networks exert causal and substantial influences on individuals’ attitudes and behaviors. The study explicitly allows for the possibility that social networks are not chosen randomly, but rather that important characteristics such as unobserved preferences and unobserved community characteristics determine not only the outcomes of interest but also the informal conversational networks in which they are discussed. Longitudinal survey data from rural Kenya on family-planning and AIDS are used to estimate the impact of social networks while controlling for their unobserved determinants. There are four major findings: First, the endogeneity of social networks can substantially distort the usual cross-sectional estimates of network influences. Second, social networks have significant and substantial effects even after controlling for unobserved factors that may determine the nature of the social networks. Third, these network effects generally are nonlinear and asymmetric. In particular, they are relatively large for individuals who have at least one network partner who is perceived to be using contraceptives or or to be at high risk of HIV/AIDS, which is consistent with S-shaped diffusion models that have been emphasized in the literature. Fourth, the effects of networks are not confined to the use of family planning by women, the focus of much of the literature on networks in demography, but appear to be more general, influencing responses to HIV/AIDS, and influencing men as well as women. (AUTHORS)

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File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/Papers/Working/wp-2001-022.pdf
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Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2001-022.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2001
Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2001-022
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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  3. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1176-1209, December.
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  5. Kohler, Hans-Peter, 2000. "Fertility decline as a coordination problem," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 231-263, December.
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  9. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2002. "Does Increasing Women's Schooling Raise the Schooling of the Next Generation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 323-334, March.
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  11. Harold Alderman & Jere R. Behrman & Victor Lavy & Rekha Menon, 2001. "Child Health and School Enrollment: A Longitudinal Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 185-205.
  12. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-336, June.
  13. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1996. "College Choice and Wages: Estimates Using Data on Female Twins," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 672-685, November.
  14. Griliches, Zvi, 1979. "Sibling Models and Data in Economics: Beginnings of a Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 37-64, October.
  15. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1994. "A Test for Moral Hazard in the Labor Market: Contractual Arrangements, Effort, and Health," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 213-227, May.
  16. Jere R. Behrman & Andrew D. Foster & Mark R. Rosenzweig & Prem Vashishtha, 1999. "Women's Schooling, Home Teaching, and Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 682-714, August.
  17. Sean Becketti & William Gould & Lee Lillard & Finis Welch, 1985. "The Panel Study of Income Dynamics After Fourteen Years: An Evaluation," UCLA Economics Working Papers 361, UCLA Department of Economics.
  18. Behrman, Jere R & Taubman, Paul, 1976. "Intergenerational Transmission of Income and Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 436-440, May.
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  20. Behrman, Jere R. & Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1999. ""Ability" biases in schooling returns and twins: a test and new estimates," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 159-167, April.
  21. Behrman, Jere R. & Wolfe, Barbara L., 1987. "How does mother's schooling affect family health, nutrition, medical care usage, and household sanitation?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1-2), pages 185-204.
  22. Becketti, Sean, et al, 1988. "The Panel Study of Income Dynamics after Fourteen Years: An Evaluatio n," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 472-492, October.
  23. Ashenfelter, Orley & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Estimates of the Economic Returns to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1157-1173, December.
  24. Barbara Entwisle & Ronald Rindfuss & David Guilkey & Aphichat Chamratrithirong & Sara Curran & Yothin Sawangdee, 1996. "Community and contraceptive choice in rural Thailand: A case study of Nang Rong," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 33(1), pages 1-11, February.
  25. Jere R. Behrman & Barbara L. Wolfe, 1989. "Does More Schooling Make Women Better Nourished and Healthier? Adult Sibling Random and Fixed Effects Estimates for Nicaragua," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(4), pages 644-663.
  26. Borjas, George J, 1995. "Ethnicity, Neighborhoods, and Human-Capital Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 365-390, June.
  27. Jere R. Behrman & Anil B. Deolalikar, 1990. "The Intrahousehold Demand for Nutrients in Rural South India: Individual Estimates, Fixed Effects, and Permanent Income," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 665-696.
  28. James Heckman, 1997. "Instrumental Variables: A Study of Implicit Behavioral Assumptions Used in Making Program Evaluations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 441-462.
  29. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1994. "Endowments and the Allocation of Schooling in the Family and in the Marriage Market: The Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1131-1174, December.
  30. Manski, C.F. & Nagin, D.S., 1995. "Bounding Disagreements About Treatment Effects: A Case Study of Sentencing and Recidivism," Working papers 9526, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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