Clio Andris, Luís Bettencourt

Paper #: 13-06-023

Understanding human socioeconomic development has proven to be one of the most difficult and persistent problems in science and policy. Recent developments suggest that the key to progress lies in the consideration of processes where new information is created and embedded in the structure of social networks at a diverse set of scales, from nations to cities and firms. We formalize these ideas in terms of network theory and analyze the Data for Development (D4D) Challenge data on mobile phone communication in Côte d’Ivoire, in this light, to show how incipient socioeconomic connectivity may constitute a general obstacle to development. We also propose a set of further tests of our ideas using telecommunications data to create potential measures that we expect would promote socioeconomic development through increases in specific types of social connectivity.