Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Smith, Jeffrey A. 2012. “Macrostructure from Survey Data: Generating Whole Systems from Ego Networks.” Sociological Methodology 42:155-205.


This paper presents a new simulation method to make global network inference from sampled data. The proposed simulation method takes sampled ego network data and uses Exponential Random Graph Models (ERGM) to reconstruct the features of the true, unknown network. After describing the method, the paper presents two validity checks of the approach: the first uses the 20 largest Add Health networks while the second uses the Sociology Coauthorship network in the 1990’s. For each test, I take random ego network samples from the known networks and use my method to make global network inference. I find that my method successfully reproduces the properties of the networks, such as distance and main component size. The results also suggest that simpler, baseline models provide considerably worse estimates for most network properties. I end the paper by discussing the bounds/limitations of ego network sampling. I also discuss possible extensions to the proposed approach.