How broadband changes online and offline behaviors
Using longitudinal panel data on Internet subscriptions and online and offline activities, I assess how broadband adoption affects behavior. Consistent with previous research, this study finds that broadband adopters increase their overall Internet usage. However, broadband adoption is associated with an increase in relatively few specific applications, like downloading music and online purchasing. Among "socially desirable" activities that governments seek to increase by encouraging broadband adoption, only researching health information rises among broadband adopters. Usage of job and career websites and usage of government sites does not rise as people move from dial-up to broadband. Among offline activities, broadband adoption lowers time spent playing video games but has no statistically significant effect on other activities like reading magazines and watching TV. OLS with person-level fixed effects and the difference-in-differences matching estimator yield similar findings. The results are somewhat sensitive to the time period studied, which could indicate that adopters at different stages of the technology's diffusion respond differently to broadband adoption; it could also reflect the rapid changes in online activities and broadband technology.
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