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Does access to information technology make people happier? Insights from well-being surveys from around the world

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  • Graham, Carol
  • Nikolova, Milena

Abstract

We explore the relationship between access to cell phones, TV, and the internet and subjective well-being worldwide, using pooled cross-sectional data from the Gallup World Poll for 2009–2011. We find that technology access is positive for well-being in general, but with diminishing marginal returns for those who already have much access. Moreover, we find signs of increased stress and anger among cohorts for whom access to the technologies is new. We also explore whether increased financial inclusion – through cell phones and mobile banking – has additional effects on well-being in Sub-Saharan Africa. We show that well-being levels are higher in the countries with higher levels of access to mobile banking, but so are stress and anger. Our findings are in line with earlier research, which shows that while development raises aggregate levels of well-being in the long run, high levels of frustration often accompany the process.

Suggested Citation

  • Graham, Carol & Nikolova, Milena, 2013. "Does access to information technology make people happier? Insights from well-being surveys from around the world," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 126-139.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:44:y:2013:i:c:p:126-139
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2013.02.025
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Djankov, Simeon & Nikolova, Elena & Zilinsky, Jan, 2016. "The happiness gap in Eastern Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 108-124.
    2. Dr Richard Dorsett, 2014. "Human well-being and in-work benefits: a randomized controlled trial," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 424, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
    3. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:1:p:308-325 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:spr:inrvec:v:65:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s12232-017-0290-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:kap:jbuset:v:146:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10551-017-3658-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Graham, Carol & Nikolova, Milena, 2015. "Bentham or Aristotle in the Development Process? An Empirical Investigation of Capabilities and Subjective Well-Being," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 163-179.
    7. repec:eee:joreco:v:25:y:2015:i:c:p:115-121 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Nikolova, Milena, 2016. "Happiness and Development," IZA Discussion Papers 10088, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Fulvio Castellacci & Vegard Tveito, 2016. "The Effects of ICTs on Well-being: A Survey and a Theoretical Framework," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20161004, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
    10. Carol Graham, 2015. "A Review of William Easterly's The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(1), pages 92-101, March.
    11. Cifuentes, Myriam Patricia & Doogan, Nathan J. & Fernandez, Soledad A. & Seiber, Eric E., 2016. "Factors shaping Americans’ objective well-being: A systems science approach with network analysis," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 1018-1039.
    12. Fulvio Castellacci & Henrik Schwabe, 2018. "Internet Use and the U-shaped relationship between Age and Well-being," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20180215, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Subjective well-being; Technology access; Financial inclusion; Cell phones; Internet;

    JEL classification:

    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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