Networks are crucial in understanding economic outcomes. Multiple key economic questions require a network analysis. Whether an individual purchases one commodity or another may depend on from whom he seeks advice about prices and product qualities. The care given to a patient in a hospital and how much it costs can depend on the network connections of the hospital and of the physician. Understanding how networks form, how they are used and their structure in diverse situations is important to almost all aspects of the social sciences. To understand the fundamental properties of networked societies and economies, those that may hold in diverse situations, it is crucial to develop a deeper understanding of network theory from multiple perspectives.

Networks Conferences is for a series of four conferences to take place over four years. Network theory and application have reached the point where such a series is needed to advance research in the area, to disseminate work in progress, to enable promising research to find a critical audience and to obtain valuable feedback, to provide new researchers to the area and graduate students a source of exposure to some of the cutting-edge, new and path-breaking research on networks.

Each conference in the series will have a theme but all papers submitted relevant to the general focus of the conference series will be considered. Key economic issues of interest include networked markets, contagion and diffusion, homophily, segregation and discrimination, networks in economic development, and inequality. Cooperative and non-cooperative game theoretic approaches as well as decision-theoretic approaches will be relevant. There are also related theoretical and econometric issues of developing new models and statistical techniques for estimating networked interactions, which may also be treated.

Within the context of networked models there will be presentations of research on labor markets, risk-sharing networks, financial networks, market design, experimental and field research with emphasis on testing the predictions of network theory, and estimation of networked models. The organizers will invite speakers doing related research from other disciplines, including computer science and sociology.

While networks have been a central area of study in sociology, they have only emerged as an important -- and now rapidly growing -- part of economics over roughly the last decade. This has been accompanied by astonishing growth of research on networks in computing science, statistical physics, and engineering. The conference series will provide opportunities for stimulating cross-disciplinary interactions. The annual conferences would also serve expose current PhD students and young researchers to cutting edge research in networks. Besides inviting some of the most promising PhD students that can be identified to the conference, the conference series will maintain a website to inform others about the program and its contents. Most important, the conference series can help bring together scholars, especially those who might be somewhat isolated, and enable them to reach a critical mass to provide each other with feedback over time on ongoing projects.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Kwabena Gyimah-Brempong
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
United States
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