human networks


Cumulative Advantage

Posted on May 20, 2011 by Tara Thiagarajan in Physics of Poverty, Writing. 2 comments

The attraction of the United States for immigrants has been the hope of social mobility. That with some hard work and good ideas you have a shot at a better economic life. In India social mobility is far more elusive. For a long time there was little expectation of it. People knew and accepted their place. Today something is changing. Hopes are emerging. Aspirations are rising. But what does it take to create conditions that allow social mobility? Why is it so hard the world over to achieve and hold on to?

Our biology and natural social structure works against social mobility. For starters, we generally pass on our wealth to our children rather than to society at large. In India a little over 80% of the rupee billionaires inherited their billionaire status (compared to 20% in the United States). But … Read More »


Connected we succeed, divided we default

Posted on April 26, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Microfinance, Writing. 3 comments

At Madura Microfinance, one of our primary assumptions is that women who are more informed and better connected will be more successful and make more productive use of loans.So, much of our efforts are aimed at increasing networks and access to information among our members. A PhD Student from Oxford, Sangamitra Ramachander, recently studied our women’s borrower groups to see what kind of factors predicted whether a group went successfully on to the next higher level loan or would default.This is still a work in progress but there are some very interesting results. Here is one odd one that stood out to me. She found that women that travelled more frequently to neighbouring villages (but surprisingly not the nearest towns) were several times more likely to be successful rather than default. It’s not clear whether this factor is … Read More »