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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)

Dunia Lopez-Pintado

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

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Date posted: October 29, 2011 ; Last revised: November 13, 2012

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

Contact Information

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
Feedback to SSRN

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