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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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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/42546/2/MPRA_paper_42546.pdf
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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. Becchetti Leonardo & Pelloni Alessandra & Rossetti Fiammetta, 2008. "Relational goods, sociability, and happiness," wp.comunite 0039, Department of Communication, University of Teramo.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Pénard, Thierry & Poussing, Nicolas & Suire, Raphaël, 2013. "Does the Internet make people happier?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 105-116.
  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. 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.
  8. Kavetsos, Georgios & Koutroumpis, Pantelis, 2011. "Technological affluence and subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 742-753.
  9. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Is Well-Being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?," IZA Discussion Papers 3075, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. 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.
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