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Cities and the Structure of Social Interactions: Evidence from Mobile Phone Data

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  • Konstantin Buechel, Maximilian von Ehrlich

Abstract

Social interactions are considered pivotal to urban agglomeration forces. This study employs a unique dataset on mobile phone calls to examine how social interactions differ across cities and peripheral areas. We first show that geographical distance is highly detrimental to interpersonal exchange. We then reveal that individuals residing in high-density locations do not benefit from larger social networks, but from a more efficient structure in terms of higher matching quality and lower clustering. These results are derived from two complementary approaches: Based on a link formation model, we examine how geographical distance, network overlap, and sociodemographic (dis)similarities impact the likelihood that two agents interact. We further decompose the effects from individual, location, and time specific determinants on micro-level network measures by exploiting information on mobile phone users who change their place of residence.

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  • Konstantin Buechel, Maximilian von Ehrlich, 2016. "Cities and the Structure of Social Interactions: Evidence from Mobile Phone Data," Diskussionsschriften credresearchpaper13, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft - CRED.
  • Handle: RePEc:rdv:wpaper:credresearchpaper13
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    Cited by:

    1. Gilles Duranton & Diego Puga, 2020. "The Economics of Urban Density," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 3-26, Summer.
    2. Chloé Duvivier & Emma Cazou & Stéphanie Truchet‐Aznar & Cédric Brunelle & Jean Dubé, 2021. "When, where, and for what industries does broadband foster establishment births?," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(6), pages 1377-1401, December.
    3. Picard, Pierre M. & Zenou, Yves, 2018. "Urban spatial structure, employment and social ties," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 77-93.
    4. Kuchler, Theresa & Russel, Dominic & Stroebel, Johannes, 2022. "JUE Insight: The geographic spread of COVID-19 correlates with the structure of social networks as measured by Facebook," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).
    5. Bailey, Michael & Farrell, Patrick & Kuchler, Theresa & Stroebel, Johannes, 2020. "Social connectedness in urban areas," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C).
    6. Stefano Guarino & Enrico Mastrostefano & Massimo Bernaschi & Alessandro Celestini & Marco Cianfriglia & Davide Torre & Lena Rebecca Zastrow, 2021. "Inferring Urban Social Networks from Publicly Available Data," Future Internet, MDPI, vol. 13(5), pages 1-45, April.
    7. Augeraud Veron, E. & Marhuenda, F. & Picard, P.M., 2021. "Local social interaction and urban equilibria," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 72-83.
    8. Theresa Kuchler & Johannes Stroebel, 2022. "Social Interactions, Resilience, and Access to Economic Opportunity: A Research Agenda for the Field of Computational Social Science," CESifo Working Paper Series 9606, CESifo.
    9. Yusra Ghafoor & Yi-Shin Chen & Kuan-Ta Chen, 2019. "Social Interaction Scaling for Contact Networks," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(9), pages 1-14, May.
    10. Behzad Vahedi & Morteza Karimzadeh & Hamidreza Zoraghein, 2021. "Spatiotemporal prediction of COVID-19 cases using inter- and intra-county proxies of human interactions," Nature Communications, Nature, vol. 12(1), pages 1-15, December.
    11. Pierre Magontier, Maximilian v. Ehrlich, Markus Schläpfer, 2022. "The Fragility of Urban Social Networks - Mobility as a City Glue -," Diskussionsschriften credresearchpaper38, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft - CRED.
    12. Kim, Jun Sung & Patacchini, Eleonora & Picard, Pierre M. & Zenou, Yves, 2017. "Urban Interactions," Working Paper Series 1192, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    13. Kim, Jun Sung & Patacchini, Eleonora & Picard, Pierre M. & Zenou, Yves, 2022. "Spatial Interactions," IZA Discussion Papers 15376, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Lai, Wangyang & Song, Hong & Wang, Chang & Wang, Huanhuan, 2021. "Air pollution and brain drain: Evidence from college graduates in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social Interactions; Agglomeration Externalities; Network Analysis; Sorting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation

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