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Search and Homophily in Social Networks


  • Sergio Currarini

    () (Department of Economics, University Of Venice C� Foscari)

  • Fernando Vega Redondo

    (European University Institute)


We study the formation of social ties among heteogeneous agents in a model where meetings are governed by agents' directed search. The aim is to shed light on the important issue of homophily (the tendency of agents to connect with others of the same type). The essential contribution of the model is to provide a basic microfoundation for the opportunity/meeting biases that, as the literature highlights, are a crucial element of the phenomenon. Under the assumption that search is more effective in large pools, the equilibrium is characterized by a threshold in terms of group size: large groups only search among similar agents while smaller groups search in the whole population. This threshold behavior is consistent with the empirical evidence observed in a range of social environments such as high school friendships and interethnic marriages. And assuming that search is subject to small frictions, it also generates the bell-shaped form of the so-called Coleman index observed in the data. Other implications of the model supported by the evidence concern the pattern of cross-group ties among small groups, the linearity of excess homophily for large groups, and the positive effect on it of overall population size.

Suggested Citation

  • Sergio Currarini & Fernando Vega Redondo, 2010. "Search and Homophily in Social Networks," Working Papers 2010_24, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  • Handle: RePEc:ven:wpaper:2010_24

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barr, Abigail & Dekker, Marleen & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2012. "Bridging the Gender Divide: An Experimental Analysis of Group Formation in African Villages," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 2063-2077.
    2. Buhai, Sebastian & van der Leij, Marco, 2006. "A Social Network Analysis of Occupational Segregation," Working Papers 06-11, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
    3. Sergio Currarini & Matthew O. Jackson & Paolo Pin, 2009. "An Economic Model of Friendship: Homophily, Minorities, and Segregation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1003-1045, July.
    4. Avinash Dixit, 2003. "Trade Expansion and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1293-1317, December.
    5. K. R. Narayanan, 1954. "Freedom in Modern Society," India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs, , vol. 10(4), pages 376-381, October.
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    More about this item


    Homophily; search; social networks; segregation.;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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