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Getting Closer or Drifting Apart

Markus Mobius () and Tanya Rosenblat

Scholarly Articles from Harvard University Department of Economics

Abstract: Advances in communication and transportation technologies have the potential to bring people closer together and create a "global village." However, they also allow heterogeneous agents to segregate along special interests, which gives rise to communities fragmented by type rather than by geography. We show that lower communication costs should always decrease separation between individual agents even as group-based separation increases. Each measure of separation is pertinent for distinct types of social interaction. A group-based measure captures the diversity of group preferences that can have an impact on the provision of public goods. While an individual measure correlates with the speed of information transmission through the social network that affects, for example, learning about job opportunities and new technologies. We test the model by looking at coauthoring between academic economists before and during the rise of the Internet in the 1990s.

Date: 2004
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Published in Quarterly Journal of Economics

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Related works:
Working Paper: Getting Closer or Drifting Apart? (2010)
Journal Article: Getting Closer or Drifting Apart? (2004) Downloads
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