Diffusion and Contagion in Networks with Heterogeneous Agents and Homophily

21 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2011 Last revised: 13 Nov 2012

See all articles by Matthew O. Jackson

Matthew O. Jackson

Stanford University - Department of Economics; Santa Fe Institute; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Dunia Lopez-Pintado

Universidad Pablo de Olavide

Date Written: 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.

Keywords: Diffusion, Contagion, Homophily, Segregation, Social Networks

JEL Classification: D85, D83 C70, C73, L15, C45

Suggested Citation

Jackson, Matthew O. and Lopez-Pintado, Dunia, Diffusion and Contagion in Networks with Heterogeneous Agents and Homophily (November 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1950476 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1950476

Matthew O. Jackson (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
1-650-723-3544 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~jacksonm

Santa Fe Institute

1399 Hyde Park Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501
United States

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) ( email )

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario

Dunia Lopez-Pintado

Universidad Pablo de Olavide ( email )

Ctra. Utrera, Km.1
Sevilla, Seville 41010

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