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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.

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  • 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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    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 - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    2. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2014. "E-participation: Social Capital and the Internet," Working Papers 2014.81, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    3. Fairlie, Robert W. & Kalil, Ariel, 2017. "The effects of computers on children's social development and school participation: Evidence from a randomized control experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 10-19.
    4. Fuchs-Schündeln, Nicola & Haliassos, Michael, 2015. "Does product familiarity matter for participation?," SAFE Working Paper Series 63, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    5. Oliver Falck & Robert Gold & Stephan Heblich, 2014. "E-lections: Voting Behavior and the Internet," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2238-2265, July.
    6. Helmut Rainer & Clara Albrecht & Stefan Bauernschuster & Anita Fichtl & Timo Hener & Joachim Ragnitz, 2018. "Deutschland 2017 - Studie zu den Einstellungen und Verhaltensweisen der Bürgerinnen und Bürger im vereinigten Deutschland," ifo Forschungsberichte, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 96, October.
    7. Kugler Franziska & Schwerdt Guido & Wößmann Ludger, 2014. "Ökonometrische Methoden zur Evaluierung kausaler Effekte der Wirtschaftspolitik," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 15(2), pages 105-132, June.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Mathias Kloss & Thomas Kirschstein & Steffen Liebscher & Martin Petrick, 2019. "Robust Productivity Analysis: An application to German FADN data," Papers 1902.00678, arXiv.org, revised Feb 2019.
    12. Nina Czernich, 2012. "Broadband Internet and Political Participation: Evidence for G ermany," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(1), pages 31-52, February.
    13. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2017. "Online Networks and Subjective Well-Being," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 456-480, August.
    14. M. Sodini & F. Sabatini & A. Antoci, 2014. "Online and offline social participation and social poverty traps. Can social networks save human relations?," Working Paper CRENoS 201404, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    15. Fuchs-Schündeln, Nicola & Haliassos, Michael, 2021. "Participation following sudden access," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 671-688.
    16. Hernan Galperin & M. Fernanda Viecens, 2017. "Connected for Development? Theory and evidence about the impact of Internet technologies on poverty alleviation," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 35(3), pages 315-336, May.
    17. Francesco Sobbrio, 2014. "The political economy of news media: theory, evidence and open issues," Chapters, in: Francesco Forte & Ram Mudambi & Pietro Maria Navarra (ed.), A Handbook of Alternative Theories of Public Economics, chapter 13, pages 278-320, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    18. Valentino Larcinese & Luke Miner, 2017. "The Political Impact of the Internet on US Presidential Elections," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 63, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    19. 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.
    20. 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.

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    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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