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The economic analysis of social interactions has a long tradition in economics but interest in this research area has substantially increased over the past few decades. Such revived interest is easily justified given the enormous expansion in interactions taking place among individuals and organizations throughout the world due to globalization and improvements in communication technologies. A peculiar feature of this literature is the pervasive role of networks. Most modern studies of social interactions go beyond the mere investigation of the relationships between pairs of agents and instead look at the full web of connections that are established by members of a given population of interest.
In this article we connect two separate strands of the economic literature on social interactions. On the one hand, there are papers looking at the process by which agents form links with each other and generate networks of connections. This process is often referred to as network formation. A parallel strand of studies analyzes the impact of social interactions on a variety of outcomes of interest: from academic achievement to employment opportunities, from criminal activities to political actions. These impacts are often referred to as peer effects. Despite being obviously very tightly connected, these two strands of the literature have surprisingly been evolving along two parallel paths, rarely intersecting with each other. In this article we also discuss the potential benefits of integrating the studies of network formation and peer effects and we provide some descriptive evidence to motivate the importance of such integration…

English

In this review paper we make the point that the literature on social interactions needs to integrate much more tightly the study of the network formation process and the analysis of peer effects, both theoretically and empirically. We also provide some descriptive evidence from a sample of students in higher education that is suggestive of forward-looking behaviour in the choice of study partners. Students appear to have homophilic preferences along ability measures, both conditional and unconditional on other traits that are not directly related to ability. Such homophilic preferences are substantially more pronounced among the most able students.
JEL Codes: D85, C15, C73, C63, I23.

  • networks
  • peers
  • education
Français

Formation de réseaux et effets de pairs: relier deux courants de la littérature

Dans cet article, nous remarquons que la littérature sur les interactions sociales devrait intégrer beaucoup plus étroitement l’étude du processus de formation des réseaux avec l’analyse des effets des pairs, à la fois théoriquement et empiriquement. Nous présentons aussi des preuves empiriques en utilisant un échantillon d’étudiants universitaires qui suggèrent un comportement prospectif dans le choix des partenaires d’étude. Les étudiants semblent avoir des préférences homophiliques selon la capacité académique, à la fois conditionnelles et inconditionnelles à d’autres variables observables qui ne sont pas directement liées à la capacité. Ces préférences homophiliques sont sensiblement plus prononcées chez les élèves les plus doués.

  • réseaux
  • pairs
  • éducation
Giacomo De Giorgi
Institute of Economics and Econometrics, Geneva School of Economics and Management, University of Geneva. Correspondence: 40 boulevard du Pont d’Arve, CH-1211, Geneva 4, Switzerland.
Michele Pellizzari
Institute of Economics and Econometrics, Geneva School of Economics and Management, University of Geneva. Correspondence: 40 boulevard du Pont d’Arve, CH-1211, Geneva 4, Switzerland.
Tomás Rodríguez
Universidad de los Andes, Faculta de Economía. Correspondence: Calle 19A No. 1-37 Este-Bloque W, Bogotá, Colombia.
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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