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Internet and voting in the social media era: Evidence from a local broadband policy

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  • Poy, Samuele
  • Schüller, Simone

Abstract

This paper analyzes the causal impact of broadband Internet on electoral outcomes beyond the introduction phase of broadband technology—that is, in the social media era—based on a local broadband policy. We exploit the staged infrastructure upgrade across rural municipalities in the Province of Trento (Italy), generating exogenous (spatial and temporal) variation in the provision of advanced broadband technology (ADSL2+). Using a difference-in-differences strategy, we find positive effects of ADSL2+ availability on overall electoral turnout at national parliamentary elections. Party vote analysis shows significant shifts across the ideological spectrum. These shifts, however, are likely transitory rather than persistent. Placebo estimates support a causal interpretation. Further evidence shows that the policy caused private broadband take-up at the extensive margin rather than a speed upgrade. We also provide evidence in support of social media use as a major mechanism for turnout effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Poy, Samuele & Schüller, Simone, 2020. "Internet and voting in the social media era: Evidence from a local broadband policy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(1).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:49:y:2020:i:1:s0048733319301805
    DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2019.103861
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    Cited by:

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    3. Jiaping Zhang & Xiaomei Gong & Zhongkun Zhu & Zhenyu Zhang, 2023. "Trust cost of environmental risk to government: the impact of Internet use," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 25(6), pages 5363-5392, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Broadband Internet; Political participation; Voting behavior; Quasi-natural experiment; Social media;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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