Dominick Bartelme, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 26 June 2015

Specialisation has been extensively researched at the micro and macro levels, but the middle one has received little attention. This column argues that the middle level – linkages across firms and industries within a country – can be important in economic development. Having built a database of input-output tables for a broad spectrum of countries and times, the authors show that countries with stronger linkages have indeed higher productivity.  

Trevon Logan, John Parman, 09 March 2015

Racial disparities in socioeconomic conditions remain a major policy issue throughout the world. This column applies a new neighbour-based measure of residential segregation to US census data from 1880 and 1940. The authors find that existing measures understate the extent of segregation, and that segregation increased in rural as well as urban areas. The dramatic decline in opposite-race neighbours during the 20th century may help to explain the persistence of racial inequality in the US.

Matthew Jackson, Brian Rogers, Yves Zenou, 06 March 2015

Understanding our increasingly interconnected world requires tools from the rapidly growing field of network science. This column discusses guiding principles that are emerging from that science and helping to understand human behaviour – ranging from disease propagation and financial contagion to criminal behaviour.

Yves Zenou, 08 January 2015

Targeting key players in a network can have important effects due to multipliers arising from peer effects. This column argues that this is particularly true for crime –the success in reducing crime in Chicago was due to the targeting of 400 key players rather than spending resources on more general targets. Key-player policies in crime, education, R&D networks, financial networks, and diffusion of microfinance outperform other policies such as targeting the most active agents in a network.

Margherita Comola, Marcel Fafchamps, 04 November 2014

How should researchers investigate the true role of people’s self-reported social links in getting a job, getting a favour or simply getting information? This column introduces a framework to estimate the process by which people’s self-reported social links are formed. The authors show that different link formation rules predict the different network structures seen in data from a risk-sharing survey in a Tanzanian village and the diffusion of agricultural knowledge in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

Alfonso Rosolia, Federico Cingano, 17 July 2011

If you lose your job, can you find a new one with a little help from your friends? This column presents evidence that displaced Italian workers with more employable friends and social contacts are unemployed for a shorter period of time.

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