Diego Battiston (LSE)
"The Persistent Effects of Brief Interactions: Evidence from Immigrant Ships"
This paper shows that brief social interactions can have a large impact on economic outcomes when they occur in high-stakes decision contexts. I study this question using a high frequency and detailed geolocalized dataset of matched immigrants-ships from the age of mass migration. Individuals exogenously travelling with (previously unrelated) higher quality shipmates end up being employed in higher quality jobs at destination. Several findings suggest that shipmates provide access and/or information about employment opportunities. Firstly, immigrants' sector of employment and place of residence are affected by those of their shipmates' contacts. Secondly, the baseline effects are stronger for individuals travelling alone and with fewer connections at destination. Thirdly, immigrants are affected more strongly by shipmates who share their language. These findings underline the sizeable effects of even brief social connections, provided that they occur during critical life junctures.