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Altruism in Networks

  • Renaud Bourlès

    ()

    (AMSE - Aix-Marseille School of Economics - Aix-Marseille Univ. - Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) - École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - Ecole Centrale Marseille (ECM))

  • Yann Bramoullé

    (AMSE - Aix-Marseille School of Economics - Aix-Marseille Univ. - Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) - École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - Ecole Centrale Marseille (ECM))

We provide the first theoretical analysis of altruism in networks. Agents are embedded in a fixed, weighted network and care about their direct friends. Given some initial distribution of incomes, they may decide to support their poorer friends. We study the resulting non-cooperative transfer game. Our analysis highlights the importance of indirect gifts, where an agent gives to a friend because his friend himself has a friend in need. We uncover four main features of this interdependence. First, we show that there is a unique profile of incomes after transfers, for any network and any utility functions. Uniqueness in transfers holds on trees, but not on arbitrary networks. Second, there is no waste in transfers in equilibrium. In particular, transfers flow through indirect paths of highest altruistic strength. Third, a negative shock on one agent cannot benefit others and tends to affect socially closer agents first. In addition, an income redistribution that decreases inequality ex-ante can increase inequality ex-post. Fourth, altruistic networks decrease income inequality. In contrast, more altruistic or more homophilous networks can increase inequality.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Working Papers with number halshs-00881451.

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Date of creation: Nov 2013
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Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-00881451
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  1. Jean Mercier Ythier, 1993. "Équilibre général de dons individuels," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 44(5), pages 925-950.
  2. Marcel Fafchamps & Flore Gubert, 2005. "The Formation of Risk Sharing Networks," Working Papers DT/2005/13, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
  3. Coralio Ballester & Antoni Calvo-Armengol & Yves Zenou, 2005. "Who's Who in Networks. Wanted: the Key Player," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 666156000000000586, www.najecon.org.
  4. Ligon, Ethan & Schechter, Laura, 2012. "Motives for sharing in social networks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 13-26.
  5. Ingela Alger & Jörgen Weibull, 2009. "Kinship, Incentives and Evolution," Working Papers hal-00435431, HAL.
  6. Cox, Donald & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2008. "Extended Family and Kinship Networks: Economic Insights and Evolutionary Directions," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
  7. Marcel Fafchamps & Susan Lund, . "Risk Sharing Networks in Rural Philippines," Working Papers 97014, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  8. Arrondel, Luc & Masson, Andre, 2006. "Altruism, exchange or indirect reciprocity: what do the data on family transfers show?," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
  9. Mark Rosenzweig & Andrew D. Foster, 1995. "Imperfect Commitment, Altruism, and the Family: Evidence from Transfer Behavior in Low-Income Rural Areas," Home Pages _075, University of Pennsylvania.
  10. Joachim De Weerdt & Marcel Fafchamps, 2011. "Social Identity and the Formation of Health Insurance Networks," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(8), pages 1152-1177, June.
  11. Francis Bloch (GREQAM and Universite de la Mediterranee), Garance Genicot (Georgetown University, and Debraj Ray (New York University and Instituto de Analisis Economico (CSIC)), 2004. "Informal Insurance in Social Networks," Working Papers gueconwpa~04-04-16, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
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  13. Harounan Kaziango, 2004. "Motives for Household Private Transfers in Burkina Faso," Working Papers 895, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  14. Townsend, R.M., 1991. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 91-3, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  15. Andrea Galeotti & Sanjeev Goyal & Matthew O. Jackson & Fernando Vega-Redondo & Leeat Yariv, 2010. "Network Games," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 218-244.
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  17. Mobius, Markus & Do, Quoc-Anh & Leider, Stephen & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2009. "Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks," Scholarly Articles 3054685, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  18. Dubois, P. & Jullien, B. & Magnac, T., 2006. "Formal and informal risk sharing in LDCs : theory and empirical evidence," Economics Working Paper Archive (Toulouse) 200608, French Institute for Agronomy Research (INRA), Economics Laboratory in Toulouse (ESR Toulouse).
  19. Maurizio Mazzocco & Shiv Saini, 2012. "Testing Efficient Risk Sharing with Heterogeneous Risk Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 428-68, February.
  20. Manuela Angelucci & Giacomo De Giorgi, 2009. "Indirect Effects of an Aid Program: How Do Cash Transfers Affect Ineligibles' Consumption?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 486-508, March.
  21. De Weerdt, Joachim & Dercon, Stefan, 2006. "Risk-sharing networks and insurance against illness," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 337-356, December.
  22. Alger, Ingela & Weibull, Jörgen, 2007. "Family ties, incentives and development: a model of coerced altruism," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 681, Stockholm School of Economics.
  23. Bernheim, B Douglas & Stark, Oded, 1988. "Altruism within the Family Reconsidered: Do Nice Guys Finish Last?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1034-45, December.
  24. Voorneveld, Mark, 2000. "Best-response potential games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 289-295, March.
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