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

Author

Listed:
  • Bauernschuster, Stefan

    (University of Passau)

  • Falck, Oliver

    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Woessmann, Ludger

    (University of Munich)

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 measures including children's social activities, we even find significant positive effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Bauernschuster, Stefan & Falck, Oliver & Woessmann, Ludger, 2011. "Surfing Alone? The Internet and Social Capital: Evidence from an Unforeseeable Technological Mistake," IZA Discussion Papers 5747, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5747
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    social capital; Internet;

    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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