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Surfing Alone? The Internet and Social Capital: Evidence from an Unforeseeable Technological Mistake

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  • Stefan Bauernschuster
  • Oliver Falck
  • Ludger Woessmann

Abstract

Does the Internet undermine social capital or facilitate inter-personal and civic engagement in the real world? Merging unique telecommunication data with geo-coded German individual-level data, we investigate how broadband Internet affects several dimensions of social capital. One identification strategy uses panel information to estimate value-added models. A second exploits a quasi-experiment in East Germany created by a mistaken technology choice of the state-owned telecommunication provider in the 1990s that still hinders broadband Internet access for many households. We find no evidence that the Internet reduces social capital. For some measures including children’s social activities, we even find significant positive effects.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3469.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3469

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Keywords: internet; social capital;

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  1. Mobius, Markus & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2004. "Getting Closer or Drifting Apart," Scholarly Articles 3043419, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. McMillan, John & Woodruff, Christopher, 1998. "Inter-Firm Relationships and Informal Credit in Vietnam," CEPR Discussion Papers 2036, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Bayer, Patrick & Ross, Stephen L., 2005. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Working Papers 8, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  4. Czernich, Nina & Falck, Oliver & Kretschmer, Tobias & Wößmann, Ludger, 2011. "Broadband Infrastructure and Economic Growth," Munich Reprints in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics 20033, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. Claudio Michelacci & Olmo Silva, 2007. "Why So Many Local Entrepreneurs?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-633, November.
  6. Ofer Malamud & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2011. "Home Computer Use and the Development of Human Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 987-1027.
  7. Betsey Stevenson, 2008. "The Internet and Job Search," NBER Working Papers 13886, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jacob L. Vigdor & Helen F. Ladd, 2010. "Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 16078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  10. Thierry Pénard & Nicolas Poussing, 2010. "Internet Use and Social Capital: The Strength of Virtual Ties," Journal of Economic Issues, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 44(3), pages 569-595, September.
  11. Jonathan Temple & Paul A. Johnson, 1998. "Social Capability And Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 965-990, August.
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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The Internet did not raise a generation of loners
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-07-11 14:53:00
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Cited by:
  1. Angelo Antoci & Fabio Sabatini & Mauro Sodini, 2014. "Bowling alone but tweeting together: the evolution of human interaction in the social networking era," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 1911-1927, July.
  2. Sabatini, Fabio & Sarracino, Francesco, 2014. "Online networks and subjective well-being," MPRA Paper 56436, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2014. "Will Facebook save or destroy social capital? An empirical investigation into the effect of online interactions on trust and networks," EERI Research Paper Series EERI RP 2014/02, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
  4. Ludger Wößmann & Oliver Falck & Stefan Bauernschuster, 2011. "Symposium: Homo Digitalis – Zerrüttet das Internet unsere Gesellschaft? brKein Grund für Innovationsfeindlichkeit und Kulturpessimismus: Das Internet erodiert nicht die Grundlagen unserer Gesellschaft," Ifo Schnelldienst, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 64(12), pages 10-12, 07.
  5. Oliver Falck & Robert Gold & Stephan Heblich, 2014. "E-lections: Voting Behavior and the Internet," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 14/642, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  6. Mario Vozar, 2011. "Marriage Dot EU: The Effect of Internet Usage on Marriage Hazard," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp444, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  7. A. Antoci & F. Sabatini & M. Sodini, 2014. "Online and offline social participation and social poverty traps. Can social networks save human relations?," Working Paper CRENoS 201404, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
  8. Sabatini, Fabio & Sarracino, Francesco, 2014. "E-participation: social capital and the Internet," MPRA Paper 55722, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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