Ulrik Beck, Benedikte Bjerge, Marcel Fafchamps, 06 February 2016

There are good reasons to think that social networks can reduce barriers to the exchange of production factors. Using data from 51 villages in Gambia, this column examines whether transfers of land between rural households improve efficiency, and whether social networks help or hinder such transfers. The results suggest that social ties may indeed be able to offset the negative impact of a limited or non-existing institutional framework.

Christopher Stanton, Catherine Thomas, 03 November 2015

Outsourcing labour tasks to lower wage countries has been made much easier by the emergence of global online labour markets. This column argues that there are significant frictions in these markets, making it difficult for workers to get their first job and establish a reputation. However, new types of organisations have emerged that allow the sharing of reputations among groups of high-quality workers. These organisations seem to rely on offline social ties between workers to help reduce information-related trade barriers.

Mirre Stallen, Richard Ridderinkhof, Frans van Winden, 13 October 2008

Ethnically diverse groups are less successful in providing public goods. This column suggests that affective interpersonal relationships may be a critical component in cooperative behaviour and outlines the evidence – from brain scans to experimental games – of their importance.

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