Economics at your fingertips  

The paradox of weak ties in 55 countries

Laura Gee (), Jason J. Jones, Christopher J. Fariss, Moira Burke and James H. Fowler

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2017, vol. 133, issue C, 362-372

Abstract: People find jobs through their social networks using ties of different strengths. Intuitively weak ties might be less useful because people communicate less often with them, or more useful because they provide novel information. Granovetter's early work showed that more job-seekers get help via acquaintances than friends (Granovetter, 1973). However, recent work on job-finding (Gee et al., 2017) shows an apparent paradox of weak ties in the United States: most people are helped through one of their numerous weak ties, but a single stronger tie is significantly more valuable at the margin. Although some studies have addressed the importance of weak ties in job finding within specific countries, this is the first paper to use a single dataset and methodology to compare the importance of weak ties across countries. Here, we use de-identified data from almost 17 million social ties in 55 countries to document the widespread existence of this paradox of weak ties across many societies. More people get jobs where their weak ties work. However, this is not because weak ties are more helpful than strong ties – it is because they are more numerous. In every country, the likelihood of going to work where an individual friend works is increasing – not decreasing – with tie strength. Yet, there is substantial variation in the added value of a strong tie at the margin across these countries. We show that the level of income inequality in a country is positively correlated with the added value of a strong tie, so that individual strong ties matter more when there is greater income inequality.

Keywords: Social networks; Labor; Referrals; Employment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Access Statistics for this article

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Neilson, William Stuart

More articles in Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization from Elsevier
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Dana Niculescu ().

Page updated 2019-03-31
Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:133:y:2017:i:c:p:362-372