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Strong ties in a small world

  • Marco van der Leij


    (Universidad de Alicante)

  • Sanjeev Goyal

    (Department of Economics, Queen Mary)

This paper examines the celebrated "Strength of weak ties" theory of Granovetter(1973). We formalize the theory in terms of two hypotheses: one, for any threeplayers with two links present, the probability of a third link being present isincreasing in the strength of the two ties, and two, the removal of a weak tieincreases average distance in the network more than the removal of a strong tie. We test these hypotheses using data on the network of coauthorship amongeconomists. We find support for the hypothesis of transitivity of strong ties, but we reject thehypothesis that weak ties reduce distance more than strong ties do. We then identify two general features of networks which explain these findings:significant inequality in the distribution of connections across individuals andstronger ties among individuals who have more connections.

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Paper provided by Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie) in its series Working Papers. Serie AD with number 2010-02.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2010
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Publication status: Published by Ivie
Handle: RePEc:ivi:wpasad:2010-02
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  1. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Matthew O. Jackson, 2004. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 426-454, June.
  2. 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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