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Happier and less isolated: internet use in old age

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  • Lelkes, Orsolya

Abstract

This paper explores the impact of internet use in old age on social isolation and on subjective well-being. Does internet use make older people less or more lonely? Does it crowd out face-to-face contacts or enhance them? We found that social isolation is lower among internet users aged 65 or over. Using a European multi-country cross-sectional dataset with over 11000 observations, we found that those who use the internet regularly have a lower chance of being isolated, more so for those who use the internet every day, controlling for personal characteristics such as income, marital status, gender and health condition. Thus, personal social meetings and virtual contacts are complementary, rather than substituting for each other. Internet use may be a useful way of reducing social isolation. We also found a positive relationship between regular internet use and self-reported life satisfaction, all else being equal. Our findings were robust in alternative specifications as well.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 42546.

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Date of creation: Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:42546

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Keywords: Social isolation; loneliness; internet use; old age; happiness;

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  1. Susann Rohwedder, 2009. "Mental Retirement," Working Papers 711, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Is Well-being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 826, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Benesch Christine & Frey Bruno S. & Stutzer Alois, 2010. "TV Channels, Self-Control and Happiness," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-35, September.
  4. Thierry Pénard & Nicolas Poussing & Raphaël Suire, 2011. "Does the Internet make people happier ?," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 201106, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
  5. Lelkes, Orsolya, 2008. "Happiness over the life cycle: exploring age-specific preferences," MPRA Paper 7302, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Bruni, Luigino & Stanca, Luca, 2008. "Watching alone: Relational goods, television and happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 506-528, March.
  7. Leonardo Becchetti & Alessandra Pelloni & Fiammetta Rossetti, 2008. "Relational Goods, Sociability, and Happiness," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 343-363, 08.
  8. Paul Frijters & Tony Beatton, 2008. "The mystery of the U-shaped relationship between happiness and age," NCER Working Paper Series 26, National Centre for Econometric Research.
  9. Sarracino, Francesco, 2010. "Social capital and subjective well-being trends: Comparing 11 western European countries," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 482-517, August.
  10. Kavetsos, Georgios & Koutroumpis, Pantelis, 2011. "Technological affluence and subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 742-753.
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