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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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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp392
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  1. 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.
  2. Thierry Pénard & Nicolas Poussing, 2010. "Internet Use and Social Capital: The Strength of Virtual Ties," Journal of Economic Issues, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 44(3), pages 569-595, September.
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  19. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  20. Patrick Bayer & Stephen L. Ross & Giorgio Topa, 2005. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Working Papers 927, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
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