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Getting Closer or Drifting Apart?

  • Rosenblat, Tanya
  • Mobius, Markus

Advances in communication and transportation technologies have the potential to bring people closer together and create a "global village." However, they also allow heterogeneous agents to segregate along special interests, which gives rise to communities fragmented by type rather than by geography. We show that lower communication costs should always decrease separation between individual agents even as group-based separation increases. Each measure of separation is pertinent for distinct types of social interaction. A group-based measure captures the diversity of group preferences that can have an impact on the provision of public goods. While an individual measure correlates with the speed of information transmission through the social network that affects, for example, learning about job opportunities and new technologies. We test the model by looking at coauthoring between academic economists before and during the rise of the Internet in the 1990s.

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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 32113.

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Date of creation: 16 Nov 2010
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Publication status: Published in Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 2004, vol. 119 no. 3, pp. 971-1009
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:32113
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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  1. Sanjeev Goyal & Marco van der Leij & José Luis Moraga-Gonzàlez, 2004. "Economics: An Emerging Small World?," Working Papers 2004.84, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
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