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What Are We Not Doing When We're Online

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  • Scott Wallsten

Abstract

The Internet has radically transformed the way we live our lives. The net changes in consumer surplus and economic activity, however, are difficult to measure because some online activities, such as obtaining news, are new ways of doing old activities while new activities, like social media, have an opportunity cost in terms of activities crowded out. This paper uses data from the American Time Use Survey from 2003 - 2011 to estimate the crowdout effects of leisure time spent online. That data show that time spent online and the share of the population engaged in online activities has been increasing steadily. I find that, on the margin, each minute of online leisure time is correlated with 0.29 fewer minutes on all other types of leisure, with about half of that coming from time spent watching TV and video, 0.05 minutes from (offline) socializing, 0.04 minutes from relaxing and thinking, and the balance from time spent at parties, attending cultural events, and listening to the radio. Each minute of online leisure is also correlated with 0.27 fewer minutes working, 0.12 fewer minutes sleeping, 0.10 fewer minutes in travel time, 0.07 fewer minutes in household activities, and 0.06 fewer minutes in educational activities.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott Wallsten, 2013. "What Are We Not Doing When We're Online," NBER Working Papers 19549, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19549
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19549.pdf
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. How the Internet is changing our daily lives
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-11-20 21:23:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Kummer, Michael & Slivko, Olga & Zhang, Michael, 2015. "Economic downturn and volunteering: Do economic crises affect content generation on Wikipedia?," ZEW Discussion Papers 15-078, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    2. 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.
    3. Andre Boik & Shane Greenstein & Jeffrey Prince, 2016. "The Empirical Economics of Online Attention," NBER Working Papers 22427, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. McDool, Emily & Powell, Philip & Roberts, Jennifer & Taylor, Karl, 2016. "Social Media Use and Children's Wellbeing," IZA Discussion Papers 10412, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Smaranda Pantea & Bertin Martens, 2014. "The Value of the Internet for Consumers," JRC Working Papers on Digital Economy 2014-08, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • L96 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Telecommunications

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