We examine how participation in a microfinance program diffuses through social networks, using detailed demographic, social network, and participation data from 43 villages in South India. We exploit exogenous variation in the importance (in a network sense) of the people who were first informed about the program, the ∈jection points.” Microfinance participation is significantly higher when the injection points have
higher eigenvector centrality. We also estimate structural models of diffusion that allow us to (i) determine the relative roles of basic information transmission versus other forms of peer influence, and (ii) distinguish information passing by participants and nonparticipants.
We find that participants are significantly more likely to pass information on to friends and acquaintances than informed non-participants. However, information passing by non-participants is still substantial and significant, accounting for roughly one-third of informedness and participation. We also find that, once we have properly conditioned on an individual being informed, her decision to participate is not significantly affected by the participation of her acquaintances.