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A structural model of segregation in social networks

  • Angelo Mele

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

In this paper, I develop and estimate a dynamic model of strategic network formation with heterogeneous agents. While existing models have multiple equilibria, I prove the existence of a unique stationary equilibrium, which characterizes the likelihood of observing a specific network in the data. As a consequence, the structural parameters can be estimated using only one observation of the network at a single point in time. The estimation is challenging because the exact evaluation of the likelihood is computationally infeasible. To circumvent this problem, I propose a Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithm that avoids direct evaluation of the likelihood. This method drastically reduces the computational burden of estimating the posterior distribution and allows inference in high dimensional models. I present an application to the study of segregation in school friendship networks, using data from Add Health containing the actual social networks of students in a representative sample of US schools. My results suggest that for white students, the value of a same-race friend decreases with the fraction of whites in the school. The opposite is true for African American students. The model is used to study how different desegregation policies may affect the structure of the network in equilibrium. I find an inverted u-shaped relationship between the fraction of students belonging to a racial group and the expected equilibrium segregation levels. These results suggest that desegregation programs may decrease the degree of interracial interaction within schools.

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File URL: http://cemmap.ifs.org.uk/wps/cwp3210.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series CeMMAP working papers with number CWP32/10.

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Date of creation: Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:32/10
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  1. Oriana Bandiera & Imran Rasul, 2002. "Social networks and technology adoption in Northern Mozambique," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3539, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Ryo Nakajima, 2007. "Measuring Peer Effects on Youth Smoking Behaviour," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 897-935.
  3. Topa, Giorgio, 2001. "Social Interactions, Local Spillovers and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 261-95, April.
  4. Nicholas A. Christakis & James H. Fowler & Guido W. Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2010. "An Empirical Model for Strategic Network Formation," NBER Working Papers 16039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Sergio Currarini & Matthew O. Jackson & Paolo Pin, 2009. "An Economic Model of Friendship: Homophily, Minorities, and Segregation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1003-1045, 07.
  6. Andrea Galeotti, 2006. "One-way flow networks: the role of heterogeneity," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 163-179, September.
  7. Elie Tamer, 2003. "Incomplete Simultaneous Discrete Response Model with Multiple Equilibria," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 147-165.
  8. Blume Lawrence E., 1993. "The Statistical Mechanics of Strategic Interaction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 387-424, July.
  9. Jackson, Matthew O., 1998. "The Evolution of Social and Economic Networks," Working Papers 1044, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  10. Giacomo De Giorgi & Michele Pellizzari & Silvia Redaelli, 2010. "Identification of Social Interactions through Partially Overlapping Peer Groups," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 241-75, April.
  11. Elie Tamer, 2003. "Incomplete Simultaneous Discrete Response Model with Multiple Equilibria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(1), pages 147-165, January.
  12. De Martí, Joan & Zenou, Yves, 2009. "Ethnic Identity and Social Distance in Friendship Formation," CEPR Discussion Papers 7566, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Mayer, Adalbert & Puller, Steven L., 2008. "The old boy (and girl) network: Social network formation on university campuses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 329-347, February.
  14. COMOLA Margherita, 2007. "The network structure of informal arrangements : evidence from rural Tanzania," Research Unit Working Papers 0708, Laboratoire d'Economie Appliquee, INRA.
  15. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
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