Getting Closer or Drifting Apart


Rosenblat T, Mobius M. Getting Closer or Drifting Apart. Quarterly Journal of Economics [Internet]. 2004;119 (3) :971-1009.
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Advances in communication and transportation technologies have the potential to bring people closer together and create a ‘global village’. However, they also allow heterogenous agents to segregate along special interests which gives rise to communities fragmented by type rather than geography. We show that lower communication costs should always decrease separation between individual agents even as group-based separation increases. Each measure of separation is pertinent for distinct types of social interaction. A group-based measure captures the diversity of group preferences that can have an impact on the provision of public goods. An individual measure correlates with the speed of information transmission through the social network that affects, for example, learning about job opportunities and new technologies. We test the model by looking at coauthoring between academic economists before and during the rise of the Internet in the 1990s.

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Last updated on 04/28/2018