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The network structure of informal arrangements : evidence from rural Tanzania


  • COMOLA Margherita



In developing countries, whenever formal economic and financial institutions lack strength, households are forced to rely on risk sharing and other informal arrangements based on pre-existing interpersonal relationships. This paper takes a network perspective to investigate how rural households form the links through which they provide and/or get economic support, and whether the connection structure of the community affects the formation of these links. I test the hypothesis that indirect contacts matter, that is, agents take into account not only potential partners’ characteristics, but also their position with respect to all other agents. A network formation framework with fully heterogeneous agents is first presented, following Jackson and Wolinsky (1996), an estimation procedure is then proposed and applied to data on a village in rural Tanzania. Results show that when agents evaluate the net advantage of forming a link they also consider the relative position and the wealth of indirect partners. My paper contributes to both network theory and the literature on risk sharing arrangements in that it proposes an innovative procedure to estimate endogenous network formation models, and provides evidence that network structure has an explanatory value disregarded by all previous studies, which are focused on direct relations only.

Suggested Citation

  • COMOLA Margherita, 2007. "The network structure of informal arrangements : evidence from rural Tanzania," Research Unit Working Papers 0708, Laboratoire d'Economie Appliquee, INRA.
  • Handle: RePEc:lea:leawpi:0708

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    Cited by:

    1. Margherita Comola & Marcel Fafchamps, 2014. "Testing Unilateral and Bilateral Link Formation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(579), pages 954-976, September.
    2. Angelo Mele, 2010. "A structural model of segregation in social networks," CeMMAP working papers CWP32/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    3. Joost Vandenbossche & Thomas Demuynck, 2013. "Network Formation with Heterogeneous Agents and Absolute Friction," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 42(1), pages 23-45, June.
    4. Boucher, Vincent & Fortin, Bernard, 2015. "Some Challenges in the Empirics of the Effects of Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 8896, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Gilles Grandjean, 2014. "Risk-sharing networks and farsighted stability," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 18(3), pages 191-218, September.
    6. Hsieh, Chih-Sheng & Lee, Lung fei, 2017. "Specification and Estimation of Network Formation and Network Interaction Models with the Exponential Probability Distribution," MPRA Paper 60726, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    households; risk sharing arrangements; network structure; Tanzania.;

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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