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David N. FIGLIO (Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University) présentera une communication :

"Information Shocks and Social Networks"

avec Sarah Hamersma and Jeffrey Roth (University of Florida)

de 14 h à 15 h 30 en Salle S016 à l'INSEE-CREST, 15 Boulevard Gabriel Péri, 92245 MALAKOFF (Métro : Malakoff/Plateau de Vanves (Immeuble "Malakoff 2)).


Abstract :

The relationships between social networks and economic behavior have been well-documented. Country-of-origin networks have been found to facilitate immigrant assimilation, job seeking, business relationships, and participation in social programs. A major pathway through which these social networks are hypothesized to operate involves information channels. However, it is often difficult to distinguish between the role of information sharing and other features of a neighborhood, such as factors that are common to people of the same ethnicities or socio-economic opportunities, or uniquely local methods of program implementation. We seek to gain new insight into the potential role of information flows in networks by investigating what happens when information is disrupted. Specifically, we consider the case of the information shock caused by the enactment of welfare reform in 1996. Welfare reform led to widespread temporary confusion about individuals' eligibility for a variety of social programs such as Medicaid and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), even though eligibility for these programs were not directly affected, and this confusion was greatest amongst immigrants.
This paper uses rich microdata from Florida vital records and program participation files to explore the effects of neighborhood social networks on the degree to which immigrant WIC participation during pregnancy declined in the "information shock" period surrounding welfare reform. In doing so, we attempt to identify a role of social networks that is not likely to be due to local implementation of public programs. We concentrate our attention exclusively on the set of Hispanic immigrants, and compare changes in WIC participation amongst Hispanic immigrants living in neighborhoods with a larger concentration of immigrants from their country of origin to those with a smaller concentration of immigrants from their country of origin, holding constant the size of the immigrant population and the share of immigrants in the neighborhood who are Hispanic. We find strong evidence to support the notion that social networks mediated the information shock faced by immigrant women in the wake of welfare reform. These results indicate that the confusion surrounding welfare reform's effects on other social program eligibility was much lower when social networks were likely stronger. These results have important potential implications for the role of social networks in information diffusion in other settings as well.