[signaling and reputation]
i am an associate professor at the economics department at stanford university. i work on development economics.
i study the role that social networks play in developing countries. a social network is a web of connections between units, such as financial relationships between households in a village. developing countries are marked by a lack well-functioning formal institutions. for instance, village farmers often don't have access to banks and insurance and court systems may not work well. as a consequence, individuals come to rely on their social networks to mediate and facilitate economic interactions. i am particularly interested in how the economics of networks can help us understand information aggregation failures and breakdown of cooperation in the developing world.
the language of networks is helpful in studying both social learning and cooperation through informal institutions. analyzing communication networks helps policymakers choose who best to give information to have it spread, and can inform researchers of misinformation traps. examining networks elucidates which individuals can sustain cooperation through, say, risk-sharing, even in the presence of frictions such as lack of commitment. the local and global externalities of introducing formal markets (e.g., credit markets) are also better understood through an attention to networks. my research approach is methodologically diverse. i collect novel data, conduct field experiments, conduct lab experiments in the field, and analyze observational data. i use both reduced form and structural methods. i use theory to design my experiments, to analyze data, and to guide my research agenda. i also work on methodological and estimation problems that arise.
you may also be interested in our project page on social networks and microfinance. abhijit banerjee, esther duflo, matt jackson and i collected data on social networks in 75 villages in rural southern karnataka, india. we have now collected two waves of network data in these villages (2006/2007 and 2011/2012) as well as network data from 70 more villages in 2015. the page contains research that has been produced from this data (including joint work with emily breza, ben golub, cynthia kinnan, horacio larreguy and juan pablo xandri) along with the wave 1 data itself, which you can also find here.
you can reach me at arungc [at] stanford [dot] edu.