Ruiqing Cao, Theresa Kuchler, Johannes Stroebel, Arlene Wong, 08 September 2017

Systematic analyses of social connectedness and social networks have traditionally been complicated by a lack of high-quality, large-scale data. This column uses data on friendship links on Facebook to construct a new measure of social connectedness between US counties, and between US counties and foreign countries. Social networks in the US are quite local, and both national and international networks are substantially shaped by historical events and migration patterns. The populations of US counties with more geographically dispersed social networks are generally richer and better educated, and have higher life expectancy and greater social mobility.