Networks, social learning, and technology adoption: The case of deworming drugs in kenya
We examine social learning using data from a program that promoted use of deworming medicine in Kenyan schools. These drugs kill worms in the body; although people are soon reinfected, treatment interferes with the cycle of transmission, generating positive externalities. Individuals randomly exposed to more information about deworming drugs through their social network were significantly less likely to take the drugs and more likely to believe the drugs are "not effective." This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that those exposed to the program had overly optimistic prior beliefs about net private drug benefits. The combination of strong social effects and extensive social networks among teenagers implies that a "child-to-child" public health approach focused on teenagers will speed social learning. There are large differences between social effect estimates relying on experimental variation (negative estimates) and nonexperimental methods (positive estimates).
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