Social Networks in Policy Making

Posted: 4 Sep 2019

Date Written: August 2019


Recent advances in data collection, computing power, and theoretical modeling have stimulated a growing literature in economics and political science studying how social networks affect policy making. We survey this literature focusing on two main aspects. First, we discuss the literature studying how (and if) social connections in Congress affect legislative behavior. We then discuss how social connections affect the relationship between policy makers and the outside world, focusing on lobbying; the importance of family, caste, and ethnic networks; and social media and public activism. In our discussion, we highlight the key methodological challenges in this literature, how they have been addressed, and the prospects for future research.

Suggested Citation

Battaglini, Marco and Patacchini, Eleonora, Social Networks in Policy Making (August 2019). Annual Review of Economics, Vol. 11, pp. 473-494, 2019, Available at SSRN: or

Marco Battaglini (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Eleonora Patacchini

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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