Politics 2.0: The Multifaceted Effect of Broadband Internet on Political Participation
We investigate the causal impact of broadband Internet on political participation using data from Italy. We show that this impact varies across different forms of political engagement and over time. Initially, broadband had a negative effect on turnout in national elections, driven by increased abstention of ideologically extreme voters. Meanwhile, however, broadband fostered other forms of online and offline participation. Over time, the negative effect was reverted due to the emergence of new political entrepreneurs who used the Internet to convert the initial "exit" back into "voice". Overall, these nuanced effects underscore the general equilibrium dynamic induced by the Internet.
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