Diffusion and Contagion in Networks with Heterogeneous Agents and Homophily
Matthew O. Jackson
Stanford University - Department of Economics; Santa Fe Institute; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)
Universidad Pablo de Olavide
November 1, 2011
We study the diffusion of an idea, a product, a disease, a cultural fad, or a technology among agents in a social network that exhibits segregation or homophily (the tendency of agents to associate with others similar to themselves). Individuals are distinguished by their types - e.g., race, gender, age, wealth, religion, profession - which, together with biased interaction patterns, induce heterogeneous rates of adoption or infection. We identify the conditions under which a behavior or disease diffuses and becomes persistent in the population. These conditions relate to the level of homophily in a society and the underlying proclivities of various types for adoption or infection. In particular, we show that homophily can facilitate diffusion from a small initial seed of adopters.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: Diffusion, Contagion, Homophily, Segregation, Social Networks
JEL Classification: D85, D83 C70, C73, L15, C45
Date posted: October 29, 2011 ; Last revised: November 13, 2012
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