IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/pubeco/v117y2014icp73-89.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

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

Author

Listed:
  • Bauernschuster, Stefan
  • Falck, Oliver
  • Woessmann, Ludger

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bauernschuster, Stefan & Falck, Oliver & Woessmann, Ludger, 2014. "Surfing alone? The internet and social capital: Evidence from an unforeseeable technological mistake," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 73-89.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:117:y:2014:i:c:p:73-89
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.05.007
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272714001145
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. John McMillan & Christopher Woodruff, 1999. "Interfirm Relationships and Informal Credit in Vietnam," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1285-1320.
    2. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 69-85, Fall.
    3. Bauernschuster, Stefan & Falck, Oliver & Woessmann, Ludger, 2014. "Surfing alone? The internet and social capital: Evidence from an unforeseeable technological mistake," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 73-89.
    4. Thierry Pénard & Nicolas Poussing, 2010. "Internet Use and Social Capital: The Strength of Virtual Ties," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(3), pages 569-595.
    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. Durlauf, Steven N. & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2005. "Social Capital," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1639-1699 Elsevier.
    7. Patrick Bayer & Stephen L. Ross & Giorgio Topa, 2008. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 1150-1196, December.
    8. Tanya S. Rosenblat & Markus M. Mobius, 2004. "Getting Closer or Drifting Apart?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 971-1009.
    9. Manudeep Bhuller & Tarjei Havnes & Edwin Leuven & Magne Mogstad, 2013. "Broadband Internet: An Information Superhighway to Sex Crime?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1237-1266.
    10. Chernozhukov, Victor & Hansen, Christian, 2008. "The reduced form: A simple approach to inference with weak instruments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(1), pages 68-71, July.
    11. Filipe R. Campante & Ruben Durante & Francesco Sobbrio, 2013. "Politics 2.0: The Multifaceted Effect of Broadband Internet on Political Participation," NBER Working Papers 19029, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Stefan Bauernschuster & Oliver Falck & Ludger Wößmann, 2011. "Surfing Alone? The Internet and Social Capital: Evidence from an Unforeseen Technological Mistake," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 392, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    13. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, January.
    14. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2004. "The Role of Social Capital in Financial Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 526-556, June.
    15. Robert W. Fairlie, 2006. "The Personal Computer and Entrepreneurship," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(2), pages 187-203, February.
    16. Hal R. Varian, 2010. "Computer Mediated Transactions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1-10.
    17. Oliver Falck & Robert Gold & Stephan Heblich, 2014. "E-lections: Voting Behavior and the Internet," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2238-2265, July.
    18. 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.
    19. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2011. "Ideological Segregation Online and Offline," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1799-1839.
    20. Gebhardt, Georg, 2010. "The Impact of the Internet on Retail Competition: Evidence from Technological Differences in Internet Access," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 345, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    21. Axel Franzen, 2003. "Social Capital and the Internet: Evidence from Swiss Panel Data," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 341-360, August.
    22. David H. Autor, 2001. "Wiring the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 25-40, Winter.
    23. Betsey Stevenson, 2009. "The Internet and Job Search," NBER Chapters,in: Studies of Labor Market Intermediation, pages 67-86 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Marcel Fafchamps, 2006. "Development and social capital," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(7), pages 1180-1198.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Internet; Social capital;

    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:117:y:2014:i:c:p:73-89. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.