Keep it Simple: A Field Experiment on Information Sharing in Social Networks

42 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2018

See all articles by Catia Batista

Catia Batista

Nova School of Business and Economics; CReAM; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; NOVAFRICA

Marcel Fafchamps

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

Pedro C. Vicente

New University of Lisbon - Nova School of Business and Economics

Date Written: August 2018

Abstract

SMS information campaigns are increasingly used for policy. To investigate their effectiveness, we conduct a lab-in-the-field experiment to study information sharing through mobile phone messages. Subjects are rural households in Mozambique who have access to mobile money. In the base treatment, subjects receive an SMS containing information on how to redeem a voucher. They can share this information with other exogeneously assigned subjects. We find that few participants redeem the voucher. They nonetheless share it with others and many share information they do not use themselves. Information is shared more when communication is anonymous and we find no evidence of homophily in information sharing. We introduce treatments to vary the cost of sending a message, shame those who do not send the voucher to others, or allow subjects to appropriate the value of information. All decrease information sharing. To encourage information sharing, the best is to keep it simple.

Suggested Citation

Batista, Catia and Fafchamps, Marcel and Vicente, Pedro C., Keep it Simple: A Field Experiment on Information Sharing in Social Networks (August 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24908, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3236711

Catia Batista (Contact Author)

Nova School of Business and Economics ( email )

Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Rua da Holanda, 1
Carcavelos, 2775-405
Portugal

CReAM

Drayton House
30 Gordon Street
London, WC1H 0AX
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/

NOVAFRICA ( email )

Nova School of Business and Economics
Rua da Holanda, 1
Carcavelos, 2775-405
Portugal

HOME PAGE: http://www.novafrica.org

Marcel Fafchamps

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Pedro C. Vicente

New University of Lisbon - Nova School of Business and Economics ( email )

Campus de Campolide
Lisbon, 1099-032
Portugal

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