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Diffusion of development initiatives in a southern Lao community: An agent based evaluation

Andrea K. Chareunsy

Journal of Asian Economics, 2018, vol. 54, issue C, 53-68

Abstract: Development initiatives in poor communities often aim at changing behaviour at the household level. We develop an agent based model to simulate the process of knowledge diffusion that undergirds household behaviour choices. The model is patterned on a rural community in southern Laos and is applied to simulating three development initiatives actually implemented there. The first initiative involves a program to encourage school attendance, the second a campaign to introduce safe water handling practices, and the third an investment in a feeder road to facilitate engagement with markets. The simulation exercise starts with an infusion effort that recruits specific households, then traces the diffusion process through social networks defined by shared activities. The decision to adopt a change in behaviour is based on the relative influence of adoptees vs non-adoptees within a household’s network. Further, the degree to which a household opting to change its behaviour effectively realizes a change also depends on the influence of its social network. In actual fact, the education initiative failed in the Lao community while the initiatives involving water practices and market engagement were successful. Our model helps to understand these outcomes in light of the way the initiatives were promulgated within a community social structure.

Keywords: Agent-based modeling; Social network; Laos; Village economy; Infusion; Diffusion (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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