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The Effect of Content on Global Internet Adoption and the Global “Digital Divide”

A country’s human capital and economic productivity increasingly depend on the Internet due to its expanding role in providing information and communications. This has prompted a search for ways to increase Internet adoption and narrow its disparity across countries – the global “digital divide.” Previous work has focused on demographic, economic, and infrastructure determinants of Internet access difficult to change in the short run. Internet content increases adoption and can be changed more quickly; however, the magnitude of its impact and therefore its effectiveness as a policy and strategy tool is previously unknown. Quantifying content’s role is challenging because of feedback (network effects) between content and adoption: more content stimulates adoption which in turn increases the incentive to create content. We develop a methodology to overcome this endogeneity problem. We find a statistically and economically significant effect, implying that policies promoting content creation can substantially increase adoption. Because it is ubiquitous, Internet content is also useful to affect social change across countries. Content has a greater effect on adoption in countries with more disparate languages, making it a useful tool to overcome linguistic isolation. Our results offer guidance for policy makers on country characteristics that influence adoption’s responsiveness to content and for Internet firms on where to expand internationally and how to quantify content investments.

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File URL: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/networks/The_Effect_of_Content_on_Global_Internet_Adoption.pdf
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Paper provided by NET Institute in its series Working Papers with number 10-24.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2010
Date of revision: Sep 2013
Publication status: Forthcoming, Management Science
Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:1024
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.NETinst.org/

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  1. Gandal, Neil & Kirkwood MP, Archy & Rob, Rafael, 1999. "The Dynamics of Technological Adoption in Hardware/Software Systems: The Case of Compact Disc Players," CEPR Discussion Papers 2078, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Hargittai, Eszter, 1999. "Weaving the Western Web: explaining differences in Internet connectivity among OECD countries," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(10-11), pages 701-718, November.
  3. Shriver, Scott K. & Nair, Harikesh S. & Hofstetter, Reto, 2011. "Social Ties and User-Generated Content: Evidence from an Online Social Network," Research Papers 2083, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  4. Harikesh Nair & Pradeep Chintagunta & Jean-Pierre Dubé, 2004. "Empirical Analysis of Indirect Network Effects in the Market for Personal Digital Assistants," Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 23-58, 03.
  5. David Dranove & Neil Gandal, 2003. "The Dvd-vs.-Divx Standard War: Empirical Evidence of Network Effects and Preannouncement Effects," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(3), pages 363-386, 09.
  6. Jeffrey R. Brown & Austan Goolsbee, 2002. "Does the Internet Make Markets More Competitive? Evidence from the Life Insurance Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 481-507, June.
  7. Fiona Scott Morton & Florian Zettelmeyer & Jorge Silva-Risso, 2001. "Internet Car Retailing," NBER Chapters, in: E-commerce, pages 501-519 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Sinai, Todd & Waldfogel, Joel, 2004. "Geography and the Internet: is the Internet a substitute or a complement for cities?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 1-24, July.
  9. Corts, Kenneth S. & Lederman, Mara, 2009. "Software exclusivity and the scope of indirect network effects in the U.S. home video game market," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 121-136, March.
  10. Morton, Fiona Scott & Zettelmeyer, Florian & Silva-Risso, Jorge, 2001. "Internet Car Retailing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 501-19, December.
  11. Hiroshi Ohashi, 2003. "The Role of Network Effects in the US VCR Market, 1978-1986," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(4), pages 447-494, December.
  12. Gautam Gowrisankaran & Joanna Stavins, 2004. "Network Externalities and Technology Adoption: Lessons from Electronic Payments," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(2), pages 260-276, Summer.
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