This paper generalizes the original Schelling (1969, 1971a,b, 2006) model of racial and residential segregation to a context of variable externalities due to social linkages. In a setting in which individuals’ utility function is a convex combination of a heuristic function à la Schelling, of the distance to friends, and of the cost of moving, the prediction of the original model gets attenuated: the segregation equilibria are not the unique solutions. While the cost of distance has a monotonic pro-status-quo effect, equivalent to that of models of migration and gravity models, if friends and neighbours are formed following independent processes the location of friends in space generates an externality that reinforces the initial configuration if the distance to friends is minimal, and if the degree of each agent is high. The effect on segregation equilibria crucially depends on the role played by network externalities.
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In this paper, we study the extent to which social connections influence the legislative effectiveness of members of the U.S. Congress. We propose a simple model of legislative effectiveness that formalizes the role of social connections and generates simple testable predictions. The model predicts that a legislator’s equilibrium effectiveness is proportional to a specific weighted Katz-Bonacich centrality in the network of social connections, where the weights depend on the legislators’ characteristics. We then propose a new empirical strategy to test the theoretical predictions using the network of cosponsorship links in the 109th-113th Congresses. The strategy addresses network endogeneity by implementing a two-step Heckman correction based on an original instrument: the legislators’ alumni connections. We find that, in the absence of a correction, all measures of centrality in the cosponsorship network are significant. When we control for network endogeneity, however, only the measure suggested by the model remains significant, and the fit of the estimation is improved. We also study the influence of legislators’ characteristics on the size of network effects. In doing so, we provide new insights into how social connectedness interacts with factors such as seniority, partisanship and legislative leadership in determining legislators’ effectiveness.
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