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Happier and less isolated: internet use in old age

  • Lelkes, Orsolya

This paper explores the impact of internet use in old age on social isolation and on subjective well-being. Does internet use make older people less or more lonely? Does it crowd out face-to-face contacts or enhance them? We found that social isolation is lower among internet users aged 65 or over. Using a European multi-country cross-sectional dataset with over 11000 observations, we found that those who use the internet regularly have a lower chance of being isolated, more so for those who use the internet every day, controlling for personal characteristics such as income, marital status, gender and health condition. Thus, personal social meetings and virtual contacts are complementary, rather than substituting for each other. Internet use may be a useful way of reducing social isolation. We also found a positive relationship between regular internet use and self-reported life satisfaction, all else being equal. Our findings were robust in alternative specifications as well.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 42546.

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Date of creation: Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:42546
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  1. Leonardo Becchetti & Alessandra Pelloni & Fiammetta Rossetti, 2008. "Relational Goods, Sociability, and happiness," CEIS Research Paper 117, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 14 Jul 2008.
  2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Is Well-being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 826, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Bruni, Luigino & Stanca, Luca, 2008. "Watching alone: Relational goods, television and happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 506-528, March.
  4. Sarracino, Francesco, 2010. "Social capital and subjective well-being trends: Comparing 11 western European countries," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 482-517, August.
  5. Susann Rohwedder & Robert J. Willis, 2010. "Mental Retirement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 119-38, Winter.
  6. Lelkes, Orsolya, 2008. "Happiness over the life cycle: exploring age-specific preferences," MPRA Paper 7302, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Frijters, Paul & Beatton, Tony, 2012. "The mystery of the U-shaped relationship between happiness and age," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 525-542.
  8. Christine Benesch & Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2006. "TV Channels, Self Control and Happiness," Working papers 2006/05, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
  9. Kavetsos, Georgios & Koutroumpis, Pantelis, 2011. "Technological affluence and subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 742-753.
  10. PENARD Thierry & POUSSING Nicolas & SUIRE Raphaël, 2011. "Does the Internet make people happier?," LISER Working Paper Series 2011-41, LISER.
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