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Online networks and subjective well-being

Author

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  • Fabio Sabatini

    () (University of Rome - La Sapienza)

  • Francesco Sarracino

    ()

Abstract

Does Facebook make people lonely and unhappy? Empirical studies have produced conflicting results about the effect of social network- ing sites (SNS) use on individual welfare. We use a representative sample of the Italian population to investigate how actual and virtual networks of social relationships influence subjective well-being (SWB). We find a significantly negative correlation between online networking and self-reported happiness. We address endogeneity in online net- working by exploiting technological characteristics of the pre-existing voice telecommunication infrastructures that exogenously determined the availability of broadband for high-speed Internet. We try to further disentangle the direct effect of SNS use on well-being from the indirect effect possibly caused by the impact of SNS's on trust and sociability in a SEM analysis. We find that online networking plays a positive role in SWB through its impact on physical interactions. On the other hand, SNS use is associated with lower social trust, which is in turn positively correlated with SWB. The overall effect of network- ing on individual welfare is significantly negative.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2014. "Online networks and subjective well-being," Econometica Working Papers wp54, Econometica.
  • Handle: RePEc:ent:wpaper:wp54
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    1. repec:kap:sbusec:v:48:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11187-016-9794-x is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Antoci, Angelo & Sabatini, Fabio & Sarracino, Francesco, 2016. "Online Networks, Social Interaction and Segregation: An Evolutionary Approach," MPRA Paper 70122, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2015. "Keeping up with the e-Joneses: Do online social networks raise social comparisons?," Papers 1507.08863, arXiv.org.
    4. Peng Nie & Alfonso Sousa-Poza & Galit Nimrod, 2017. "Internet Use and Subjective Well-Being in China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, pages 489-516.
    5. Angelo Antoci & Alexia Delfino & Fabio Paglieri & Fabio Sabatini, 2016. "The ecology of social interactions in online and offline environments," Papers 1601.07776, arXiv.org.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social participation; online networks; Facebook; social trust; social capital; subjective well-being; hate speech; broadband; digital divide;

    JEL classification:

    • C36 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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