Social capital I: measurement and associations with economic mobility

Raj Chetty, Matthew O. Jackson, Theresa Kuchler, Johannes Stroebel, Nathaniel Hendren, Robert B. Fluegge, Sara Gong, Federico Gonzalez, Armelle Grondin, Matthew Jacob, Drew Johnston, Martin Koenen, Eduardo Laguna-Muggenburg, Florian Mudekereza, Tom Rutter, Nicolaj Thor, Wilbur Townsend, Ruby Zhang, Mike Bailey, Pablo Barberá, Monica Bhole & Nils Wernerfelt 

Nature (2022)

Social capital—the strength of an individual’s social network and community—has been identified as a potential determinant of outcomes ranging from education to health1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8. However, efforts to understand what types of social capital matter for these outcomes have been hindered by a lack of social network data. Here, in the first of a pair of papers9, we use data on 21 billion friendships from Facebook to study social capital. We measure and analyse three types of social capital by ZIP (postal) code in the United States: (1) connectedness between different types of people, such as those with low versus high socioeconomic status (SES); (2) social cohesion, such as the extent of cliques in friendship networks; and (3) civic engagement, such as rates of volunteering. These measures vary substantially across areas, but are not highly correlated with each other. We demonstrate the importance of distinguishing these forms of social capital by analysing their associations with economic mobility across areas. The share of high-SES friends among individuals with low SES—which we term economic connectedness—is among the strongest predictors of upward income mobility identified to date10,11. Other social capital measures are not strongly associated with economic mobility. If children with low-SES parents were to grow up in counties with economic connectedness comparable to that of the average child with high-SES parents, their incomes in adulthood would increase by 20% on average. Differences in economic connectedness can explain well-known relationships between upward income mobility and racial segregation, poverty rates, and inequality12,13,14. To support further research and policy interventions, we publicly release privacy-protected statistics on social capital by ZIP code at https://www.socialcapital.org

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Social capital II: determinants of economic connectedness

Raj Chetty, Matthew O. Jackson, Theresa Kuchler, Johannes Stroebel, Nathaniel Hendren, Robert B. Fluegge, Sara Gong, Federico Gonzalez, Armelle Grondin, Matthew Jacob, Drew Johnston, Martin Koenen, Eduardo Laguna-Muggenburg, Florian Mudekereza, Tom Rutter, Nicolaj Thor, Wilbur Townsend, Ruby Zhang, Mike Bailey, Pablo Barberá, Monica Bhole & Nils Wernerfelt
Nature (2022)

Low levels of social interaction across class lines have generated widespread concern1,2,3,4 and are associated with worse outcomes, such as lower rates of upward income mobility4,5,6,7. Here we analyse the determinants of cross-class interaction using data from Facebook, building on the analysis in our companion paper7. We show that about half of the social disconnection across socioeconomic lines—measured as the difference in the share of high-socioeconomic status (SES) friends between people with low and high SES—is explained by differences in exposure to people with high SES in groups such as schools and religious organizations. The other half is explained by friending bias—the tendency for people with low SES to befriend people with high SES at lower rates even conditional on exposure. Friending bias is shaped by the structure of the groups in which people interact. For example, friending bias is higher in larger and more diverse groups and lower in religious organizations than in schools and workplaces. Distinguishing exposure from friending bias is helpful for identifying interventions to increase cross-SES friendships (economic connectedness). Using fluctuations in the share of students with high SES across high school cohorts, we show that increases in high-SES exposure lead low-SES people to form more friendships with high-SES people in schools that exhibit low levels of friending bias. Thus, socioeconomic integration can increase economic connectedness in communities in which friending bias is low. By contrast, when friending bias is high, increasing cross-SES interactions among existing members may be necessary to increase economic connectedness. To support such efforts, we release privacy-protected statistics on economic connectedness, exposure and friending bias for each ZIP (postal) code, high school and college in the United States at https://www.socialcapital.org.

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Information theory: A foundation for complexity science

Amos Golan and John Harte

PNAS 119 (33) e2119089119

Modeling and inference are central to most areas of science and especially to evolving and complex systems. Critically, the information we have is often uncertain and insufficient, resulting in an underdetermined inference problem; multiple inferences, models, and theories are consistent with available information. Information theory (in particular, the maximum information entropy formalism) provides a way to deal with such complexity. It has been applied to numerous problems, within and across many disciplines, over the last few decades. In this perspective, we review the historical development of this procedure, provide an overview of the many applications of maximum entropy and its extensions to complex systems, and discuss in more detail some recent advances in constructing comprehensive theory based on this inference procedure. We also discuss efforts at the frontier of information-theoretic inference: application to complex dynamic systems with time-varying constraints, such as highly disturbed ecosystems or rapidly changing economies.

Read the full article at: www.pnas.org

ALIFE 2022: The 2022 Conference on Artificial Life | MIT Press

This volume presents the proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Artificial Life (ALIFE 2022) which took place in Trento,
18-22 July 2022 (https://2022.alife.org/). The conference was held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The ALIFE 2022 conference theme is ‘La DOLCE vita. Discoveries on Life Complexity and Evolution for the improvement
of real lives’. The conference theme explores how to improve the quality of real life using techniques and discoveries from
the ALife field. This covers various topics including (but not limited to): the creation of artificial cells and organisms for
health and technological applications, engineered ecosystems for improved environmental quality and sustainable agriculture,
virtual/augmented reality creations with positive social impact, the well-being of our digital infrastructure, AI and ALife algorithms for equitable access to resources and accurate information, AI, ALife or robot assistance for those in need, AI, ALife
or robot applications for food production and distribution, the regeneration, redistribution and reuse of everyday resources,
microbial fuel cell systems for renewable energy, and other innovative technologies for social good.

Read the full book at: direct.mit.edu

[Classics] On a class of skew distribution functions

HERBERT A. SIMON

Biometrika, Volume 42, Issue 3-4, December 1955, Pages 425–440,

It is the purpose of this paper to analyse a class of distribution functions that appears in a wide range of empirical data—particularly data describing sociological, biological and economic phenomena. Its appearance is so frequent, and the phenomena in which it appears so diverse, that one is led to the conjecture that if these phenomena have any property in common it can only be a similarity in the structure of the underlying probability mechanisms. The empirical distributions to which we shall refer specifically are: (A) distributions of words in prose samples by their frequency of occurrence, (B) distributions of scientists by number of papers published, (C) distributions of cities by population, (D) distributions of incomes by size, and (E) distributions of biological genera by number of species.
No one supposes that there is any connexion between horse-kicks suffered by soldiers in the German army and blood cells on a microscope slide other than that the same urn scheme provides a satisfactory abstract model of both phenomena. It is in the same direction that we shall look for an explanation of the observed close similarities among the five classes of distributions listed above.

Read the full article at: academic.oup.com