Social networks are very important in developing countries, forming an important substitute for missing or incomplete markets. They provide information on jobs, health and nutrition practices and new technologies, serve as institutions for sharing resources and risk and influence economic outcomes and participation in public policies.
IFS research has analysed how networks influence investments in human capital in the presence of a conditional cash transfer programme, sharing of resources in resource-poor settings, and how social ties influence interactions in laboratory experiments in the field. Ongoing research is exploring how networks influence the uptake of interventions and policies, how interventions alter networks, and how they shape informal risk sharing patterns in developing countries.
In the area of social capital, IFS work has investigated, using laboratory experiments in the field, how policies such as conditional cash transfer programmes and initiatives promoting community cohesion promote the building of social capital in post-conflict societies in Colombia.