Relationship Between Facebook Friendships and Economic Opportunity
Facebook’s new research on social networks and economic mobility
Your network is your net worth is a true but incomplete axiom.
It is true because your network molds your aspirations, it influences the opportunities you get, and it determines your social mobility. It is incomplete because today, communities today provide a compelling alternative to networks.
This week Facebook (Meta) came out with a new research that studies the relationship between Facebook friends and economic opportunities. Lead by Raj Chettty and Harvard’s Opportunity Insights group, the research concluded that
Social networks are highly stratified by socioeconomic class: people tend to befriend others with similar incomes
Children who grow up in communities with more economic connectedness (cross-class interaction) are much more likely to rise up out of poverty
Other forms of social capital – how tight-knit a community is or levels of civic engagement – are not strongly associated with economic mobility
Differences in economic connectedness can explain the relationship between upward mobility and other factors, such as poverty rates and racial segregation
The social disconnection by class is due in equal part to segregation by income across social settings and friending bias within settings, the tendency for people to befriend people similar to them.
Both segregation and friending bias are shaped by the structure of institutions and can be reduced through targeted changes in local policies