Estimating the Size and Age-gender Distribution of Women’s Active Social Networks

Maryam Zamanian, Mohammad Reza Baneshi, Ali Akbar Haghdoost, Tayebeh Mokhtari-Sorkhani, Fatemeh Amiri, Farzaneh Zolala


Background: Network Scale-up (NSU) method is an indirect method for the estimation of hidden behaviors. In NSU, respondents are asked about the number of members they know from a subpopulation of interest (e.g., injecting drug user) and assume that the prevalence of risky behavior in the networks of a random sample of respondents is similar to that of the population. However, first, we need to identify the total number of people each respondent knows [the social network size (C)]; Moreover, certain risky behaviors happen in particular age and gender groups. Our aim was to determine the size and age-gender distribution of female networks.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in the city of Kerman, Iran. A total sample of 1275 women was recruited using multistage sampling. In this study, 25 first names were selected as reference groups. Participants were asked how many people they know with the selected names. The respondent’s answers were categorized into eight separate age-gender subgroups and C was estimated for each subgroup.

Findings: The results of this study showed that, on average, each Kermanian woman knows about 234 people and about two-thirds of them are female (82 males and 152 females); moreover, participants were more likely to communicate with their peers. The majority of males (88%) known by Kermanian women were in young and middle age groups; in contrast the female young and middle age groups, who are at reproductive age, form only 45% of the female part of their networks.

Conclusion: We have seen that the age-gender distribution of the networks is not the same as that of the general population. Our figures can be applied in NSU studies focusing on risky behaviors of particular age and gender groups.


Network Scale-up; Network size; Age-gender distribution; Women; Iran

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