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

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Author Info

  • Bauernschuster, Stefan

    ()
    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Falck, Oliver

    ()
    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Woessmann, Ludger

    ()
    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5747.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: May 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5747

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Keywords: social capital; Internet;

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References

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  1. Michelacci, Claudio & Silva, Olmo, 2006. "Why So Many Local Entrepreneurs?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5828, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Ofer Malamud & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2010. "Home Computer Use and the Development of Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 15814, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Rosenblat, Tanya & Mobius, Markus, 2010. "Getting Closer or Drifting Apart?," Staff General Research Papers 32113, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. John McMillan & Christopher Woodruff, 1999. "Interfirm Relationships And Informal Credit In Vietnam," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1285-1320, November.
  5. 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.
  6. Betsey Stevenson, 2008. "The Internet and Job Search," NBER Working Papers 13886, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Nina Czernich & Oliver Falck & Tobias Kretschmer & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "Broadband Infrastructure and Economic Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 2861, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. 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.
  9. Patrick Bayer & Stephen L. Ross & Giorgio Topa, 2004. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Working papers 2004-07, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2005.
  10. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  11. Jonathan Temple & Paul A. Johnson, 1998. "Social Capability And Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 965-990, August.
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Blog mentions

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. 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 Gesellsc," Ifo Schnelldienst, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 64(12), pages 10-12, 07.
  2. 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.
  3. Falck, Oliver & Gold, Robert & Heblich, Stephan, 2012. "E-Lections: Voting Behavior and the Internet," IZA Discussion Papers 6545, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. 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.
  5. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2013. "Will Facebook save or destroy social capital? An empirical investigation into the effect of online interactions on trust and networks," Department of Economics University of Siena 692, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  6. Sabatini, Fabio & Sarracino, Francesco, 2014. "E-participation: social capital and the Internet," MPRA Paper 55722, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Antoci, Angelo & Sabatini, Fabio & Sodini, Mauro, 2014. "Online and offline social participation and social poverty traps. Can social networks save human relations?," MPRA Paper 55703, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Sabatini, Fabio & Sarracino, Francesco, 2014. "Online networks and subjective well-being," MPRA Paper 56436, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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