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Action, Function, & Structure; Interpreting Network Effects on Behavior in Rural Malawi

Guy Stecklov and Alexander Weinreb
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Guy Stecklov: Agricultural and Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization
Alexander Weinreb: Agricultural and Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization

No 07-12, Working Papers from Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA)

Abstract: A long series of ethnographic and sociological studies on kinship systems and information flows in developing societies has portrayed networks as varying structurally, serving multiple functions, and expressing themselves in different types of interaction. Little of this earlier work has informed empirical research in demography or development-related research. In stead, the latter operationalize social networks in relatively narrow ways, allowing for little overlap between multiple networks, and focusing on a subset of potential causal mechanisms. In an effort to pull the empirical literature closer to its qualitative forbearer, we use data from the Malawi Diffusion and Ideation Change Project to test how conversation networks and transfer networks overlap. We offer some predictions regarding how these overlapping networks might individually or jointly influence distinct outcome including ownership of livestock, planning innovative crops and HIV testing. Our sample of women from Malawi, interviewed in 3 rounds across a 6-year period, also enables us to question the inter-temporal stability of network effects. Our findings highlight: (a) how networks based on different actions appear nonetheless consistent with diverse behavioral outcomes; (b) how there is relatively little overlap between conversational and transfer networks; and (c) how there is considerable instability in temporal effects of conversational networks.

Keywords: Agricultural innovation; social networks; risk diversification; HIV testing. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D8 D85 J1 O1 O3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 37 pages
Date: 2007
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-agr, nep-dev, nep-net and nep-soc
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