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Surfing Alone? The Internet and Social Capital: Evidence from an Unforeseen Technological Mistake

  • Stefan Bauernschuster
  • Oliver Falck
  • Ludger Wößmann

Does the Internet undermine social capital or facilitate inter-personal and civic engagement in the real world? Merging unique telecommunication data with geo-coded German individual-level data, we investigate how broadband Internet affects several dimensions of social capital. One identification strategy uses panel information to estimate value-added models. A second exploits a quasi-experiment in East Germany created by a mistaken technology choice of the state-owned telecommunication provider in the 1990s that still hinders broadband Internet access for many households. We find no evidence that the Internet reduces social capital. For some measuresincluding children's social activities, we even find significant positive effects.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.376838.de/diw_sp0392.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 392.

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Length: 25 , Anh. p.
Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp392
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  1. Jacob L. Vigdor & Helen F. Ladd, 2010. "Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 16078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Robert W. Fairlie, 2006. "The Personal Computer and Entrepreneurship," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(2), pages 187-203, February.
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  8. Rosenblat, Tanya & Mobius, Markus, 2010. "Getting Closer or Drifting Apart?," Staff General Research Papers Archive 32113, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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  10. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. David Autor, 2000. "Wiring the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Czernich, Nina & Falck, Oliver & Kretschmer, Tobias & Wößmann, Ludger, 2011. "Broadband Infrastructure and Economic Growth," Munich Reprints in Economics 20033, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  16. Betsey Stevenson, 2008. "The Internet and Job Search," NBER Working Papers 13886, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Edward L. Glaeser & David Laibson & Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "An Economic Approach to Social Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 437-458, November.
  18. Jonathan Temple & Paul A. Johnson, 1998. "Social Capability and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 965-990.
  19. 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.
  20. Axel Franzen, 2003. "Social Capital and the Internet: Evidence from Swiss Panel Data," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 341-360, 08.
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