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Surfing alone? The internet and social capital: Evidence from an unforeseeable technological mistake

Listed author(s):
  • Bauernschuster, Stefan
  • Falck, Oliver
  • Woessmann, Ludger

Does the Internet undermine social capital, such as real-world inter-personal relations and civic engagement? Merging unique telecommunication data with geo-coded German individual-level data, we investigate how broadband Internet affects social capital. A first identification strategy uses first-differencing to account for unobserved time-invariant individual heterogeneity. A second identification strategy exploits a quasi-experiment in East Germany created by a mistaken technology choice of the state-owned telecommunication provider in the 1990s that hindered broadband Internet roll-out for many households. We find no evidence of negative effects of the Internet on several aspects of social capital. In fact, the effect on a composite social capital index is significantly positive.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 117 (2014)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 73-89

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:117:y:2014:i:c:p:73-89
DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.05.007
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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