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Networks, social learning, and technology adoption: The case of deworming drugs in kenya

  • Edward Miguel
  • Michael Kremer

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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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00312.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00312
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. Oriana Bandiera & Imran Rasul, 2002. "Social Networks and Technology Adoption in Northern Mozambique," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 35, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  2. Mark Rosenzweig & Andrew D. Foster, . "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Home Pages _068, University of Pennsylvania.
  3. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 815-842.
  4. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
  5. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
  6. Matthew Rabin & Joel L. Schrag, 1999. "First Impressions Matter: A Model of Confirmatory Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 37-82.
  7. Hans-Peter Kohler & Jere Behrman & Susan Watkins, 2001. "The density of social networks and fertility decisions: evidence from south nyanza district, kenya," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 38(1), pages 43-58, February.
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