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Networks, Finance, and Development: Evidence from Hunter-Gatherers

  • New York University
  • Farzad Saidi

This paper sheds light on the relationship between social networks and market incompleteness in an Amazonian hunter-gatherer society. In that economy, individuals enter informal contracts to finance, besides their foraging-farming activities, relatively risky human capital investments in pursuit of employment outside the villages. While the default financing contract can be characterized as debt, insurance in the form of equity-like financing is only available from fellow villagers. However, in order to maintain the stability of the village networks, human capital investments are underfunded with insurance. I show that this capital market imperfection potentially leads to substantial underinvestment in human capital, and calibrate the counterfactual efficiency gains from completing the market.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2011 Meeting Papers with number 615.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:615
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Christian Zimmermann Economic Research Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis PO Box 442 St. Louis MO 63166-0442 USA
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Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/society.htm
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  1. Alesina, Alberto F & Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre & Giuliano, Paola, 2010. "Family Values and the Regulation of Labor," CEPR Discussion Papers 7688, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Banerjee, Abhijit & Newman, Andrew F, 1998. "Information, the Dual Economy, and Development," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 631-53, October.
  3. Markus Mobius & Adam Szeidl, 2007. "Trust and Social Collateral," NBER Working Papers 13126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Mark Huggett, 2010. "Human Capital Values and Returns: Bounds Implied By Earnings and Asset Returns Data," 2010 Meeting Papers 564, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Mace, Barbara J, 1991. "Full Insurance in the Presence of Aggregate Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 928-56, October.
  6. Udry, Christopher, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526, July.
  7. Ingela Alger & Jörgen Weibull, 2009. "Kinship, Incentives and Evolution," Working Papers hal-00435431, HAL.
  8. Mobius, Markus & Do, Quoc-Anh & Leider, Stephen & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2009. "Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks," Scholarly Articles 3054685, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Abhijit Banerjee & Kaivan Munshi, 2004. "How Efficiently is Capital Allocated? Evidence from the Knitted Garment Industry in Tirupur," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 19-42.
  10. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2009. "Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 143-179.
  11. Jacoby, Hanan G & Skoufias, Emmanuel, 1997. "Risk, Financial Markets, and Human Capital in a Developing Country," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 311-35, July.
  12. Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1988. "Risk, Implicit Contracts and the Family in Rural Areas of Low-income Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(393), pages 1148-70, December.
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