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Abstract

In this paper we survey the study of social networks and their application to economic history. We take the perspective of the applied researcher and focus on empirical methods, leaving out structural models and the literature on strategic network formation (games on networks). Our aim is to assist economic historians in identifying whether networks may be useful frameworks for their research agendas. We highlight the main challenges in using social network methods, namely, measurement error, data completeness, and the usual threats to identification of causal effects. We also review the burgeoning literature in economic history that applies network meth- ods, organized along four main themes: markets, financial intermediation, politics and knowledge diffusion.

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