The interaction between social structure and markets remains a central theme in the social sciences. In some instances, markets can build on and enhance social networks’ economic role; in other contexts, markets appear to be in direct competition with social networks. The impact of markets on inequality and welfare is also varying: while markets can sometimes offer valuable outside options to marginalised individuals, in other situations only well connected and better off individuals can benefit from them.
Individuals derive benefits from their connections, but these may, at the same time, transmit external threats. Individuals therefore invest in security to protect themselves. However, the incentives to invest in security depend on their network exposures. We study the problem of designing a network that provides the right individual incentives.
It is instructive to view the study of networks in economics as a shift in paradigm, in the sense of Kuhn (1962). This perspective helps us locate the innovation that networks bring to economics, appreciate different strands of the research, assess the current state of the subject and identify the challenges.
The economics of religion is a relatively new field of research in economics. This survey serves two purposes – it is backward-looking in that it traces the historical and sociological origins of this field, and it is forward-looking in that it examines the insights and research themes that are offered by economists to investigate religion globally in the modern world.
The tension between efficiency and equilibrium is a central feature of economic systems. In many contexts, social networks mediate this trade-off: an individual’s network position determines equilibrium play, and social relations allow coordination on an efficient norm.
Anyone who has spent time in a developing country knows the importance of social connections. Among their many roles, these connections help individuals land jobs, and provide them with credit and other forms of support.