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Does Broadband Internet Affect Fertility?

Listed author(s):
  • Billari, Francesco C.

    ()

    (Bocconi University)

  • Giuntella, Osea

    ()

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Stella, Luca

    ()

    (Bocconi University)

The spread of high-speed Internet epitomizes the digital revolution, affecting several aspects of our life. Using German panel data, we test whether the availability of broadband Internet influences fertility choices in a low-fertility setting, which is well-known for the difficulty to combine work and family life. We exploit a strategy devised by Falck et al. (2014) to obtain causal estimates of the impact of broadband on fertility. We find positive effects of high-speed Internet availability on the fertility of high-educated women aged 25 and above. Effects are not statistically significant both for men, low-educated women, and under 25. We also show that broadband access significantly increases the share of women reporting teleworking or part-time working. Furthermore, we find positive effects on time spent with children and overall life satisfaction. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that high-speed Internet allows high-educated women to conciliate career and motherhood, which may promote fertility with a "digital divide". At the same time, higher access to information on the risks and costs of early pregnancy and childbearing may explain the negative effects on younger adults.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10935.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2017
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10935
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  1. Kohler, Hans-Peter, 2001. "Fertility and Social Interaction: An Economic Perspective," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199244591.
  2. 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.
  3. Vincent Bremhorst & Michaela Kreyenfeld & Philippe Lambert, 2016. "Fertility progression in Germany: An analysis using flexible nonparametric cure survival models," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 35(18), pages 505-534, August.
  4. Oliver Falck, 2017. "Does broadband infrastructure boost employment?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 341-341, March.
  5. Eliana La Ferrara & Alberto Chong & Suzanne Duryea, 2012. "Soap Operas and Fertility: Evidence from Brazil," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 1-31, October.
  6. Ron Lesthaeghe, 2010. "The Unfolding Story of the Second Demographic Transition," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 36(2), pages 211-251.
  7. Eibich, Peter & Siedler, Thomas, 2016. "Retirement, intergenerational time transfers and fertility," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145746, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  8. Jennifer Trudeau, 2016. "The role of new media on teen sexual behaviors and fertility outcomes—the case of 16 and Pregnant," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 975-1003, January.
  9. Hans-Peter Kohler & Jere Behrman & Susan Watkins, 2001. "The density of social networks and fertility decisions: evidence from south nyanza district, kenya," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 38(1), pages 43-58, February.
  10. Frances Goldscheider & Eva Bernhardt & Trude Lappegård, 2015. "The Gender Revolution: A Framework for Understanding Changing Family and Demographic Behavior," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 41(2), pages 207-239, June.
  11. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
  12. Nicoletta Balbo & Nicola Barban, 2012. "Does fertility behavior spread among friends?," Working Papers 050, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
  13. Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2015. "Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV's 16 and Pregnant on Teen Childbearing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(12), pages 3597-3632, December.
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