We examine the informal exchange of favors in societies such that any two individuals interact too infrequently to sustain exchange, but such that the social pressure of the possible loss of multiple relationships can sustain exchange. Patterns of exchange that are locally enforceable
and renegotiation-proof necessitate that all links are “supported”: any two individuals exchanging favors have a common friend. In symmetric settings, such robust networks are “social quilts”: tree-like unions of completely connected subnetworks. Examining favor exchange
networks in 75 villages in rural India, we find high levels of support and identify characteristics that correlate with support.
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