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

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  • Stefan Bauernschuster
  • Oliver Falck
  • Ludger Wößmann

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp392
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sabatini, Fabio & Sarracino, Francesco, 2013. "Will Facebook save or destroy social capital? An empirical investigation into the effect of online interactions on trust and networks," EconStor Preprints 88145, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    2. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2014. "E-participation: Social Capital and the Internet," Working Papers 2014.81, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    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. Angelo Antoci & Fabio Sabatini & Mauro Sodini, 2014. "Bowling alone but tweeting together: the evolution of human interaction in the social networking era," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 1911-1927, July.
    5. Angelo Antoci & Fabio Sabatini & Mauro Sodini, 2013. "Economic Growth, Technological Progress and Social Capital: The Inverted U Hypothesis," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 401-431, July.
    6. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2017. "Online Networks and Subjective Well-Being," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 456-480, August.
    7. repec:bla:devpol:v:35:y:2017:i:3:p:315-336 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Francesco Sobbrio, 2014. "The political economy of news media: theory, evidence and open issues," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Alternative Theories of Public Economics, chapter 13, pages 278-320 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Jalees, Tariq & Tariq, Huma & Zaman, Syed Imran & Alam Kazmi, Syed Hasnain, 2015. "Social Media in Virtual Marketing," MPRA Paper 69868, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Apr 2015.
    10. Valentino Larcinese & Luke Miner, 2018. "Was Obama Elected by the Internet? Broadband Diffusion and Voters' Behavior in US Presidential Elections," CESifo Working Paper Series 6882, CESifo Group Munich.

    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

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