Gender dimensions of social networks and technology adoption: Evidence from a field experiment in Uttar Pradesh, India

Nicholas Magnan, David J. Spielman, Kajal Gulati, Travis J. Lybbert

This study of the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) was motivated by an interest in how men and women in the same household acquire information through social networks about agricultural technologies. Most literature on learning and technology adoption in agriculture assumes a unitary household model. In this model, information flows into the household through the male household head via his interactions with other farmers, extension agents, and other sources of agricultural information. Guided by the information he gathers, he then selects the technology that maximizes household well-being.

However, information can be gathered by both men and women through their own distinct social networks. These different information channels are valuable assets that can greatly help in learning about new technologies and farming practices. Also, women can play a fundamental role in many production-related decisions, including technology adoption, crop portfolio, input use, and marketing choices. When technology adoption decisions are considered to be made jointly, female preferences have been shown to play a significant role in the household’s technology choice (Fisher, Warner, and Masters 2000; Zepeda and Castillo 1997). This suggests the importance of including both male and female preferences and information sources when modeling technology adoption. This study, conducted in partnership with the Gender, Agriculture, and Assets Project (GAAP), examines the formation and composition of men and women’s social networks and how they might affect technology adoption.