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Online networks and subjective well-being

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  • Sabatini, Fabio
  • Sarracino, Francesco

Abstract

Does Facebook make people lonely and unhappy? Empirical studies have produced conflicting results about the effect of social networking sites (SNS) use on individual welfare. We use a representative sample of the Italian population to investigate how actual and virtual networks of social relationships influence subjective well-being (SWB). We find a significantly negative correlation between online networking and self-reported happiness. We address endogeneity in online networking by exploiting technological characteristics of the pre-existing voice telecommunication infrastructures that exogenously determined the availability of broadband for high-speed Internet. We try to further disentangle the direct effect of SNS use on well-being from the indirect effect possibly caused by the impact of SNS’s on trust and sociability in a SEM analysis. We find that online networking plays a positive role in SWB through its impact on physical interactions. On the other hand, SNS use is associated with lower social trust, which is in turn positively correlated with SWB. The overall effect of networking on individual welfare is significantly negative.

Suggested Citation

  • Sabatini, Fabio & Sarracino, Francesco, 2014. "Online networks and subjective well-being," MPRA Paper 56436, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:56436
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    Cited by:

    1. Angelo Antoci & Alexia Delfino & Fabio Paglieri & Fabio Sabatini, 2016. "The ecology of social interactions in online and offline environments," Papers 1601.07776, arXiv.org.
    2. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2016. "Keeping up with the e-Joneses: Do Online Social Networks Raise Social Comparisons?," Working Papers 2016.32, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    3. Angelo Antoci & Fabio Sabatini, 2018. "Online networks, social interaction and segregation: an evolutionary approach," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 859-883, September.
    4. repec:kap:sbusec:v:48:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11187-016-9794-x is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2015. "Keeping up with the e-Joneses: Do online social networks raise social comparisons?," Papers 1507.08863, arXiv.org.
    6. Solferino, Nazaria & Solferino, Viviana & Taurino, SerenaFiona, 2018. "Quantum entanglement and the emergence of collaboration in social media," MPRA Paper 86228, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Peng Nie & Alfonso Sousa-Poza & Galit Nimrod, 2017. "Internet Use and Subjective Well-Being in China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 132(1), pages 489-516, May.
    8. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2015. "Keeping up with the e-Joneses: Do online social networks raise social comparisons?," Papers 1507.08863, arXiv.org.
    9. repec:spr:inrvec:v:65:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s12232-017-0290-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Antoci, Angelo & Bonelli, Laura & Paglieri, Fabio & Reggiani, Tommaso G. & Sabatini, Fabio, 2018. "Civility and Trust in Social Media," IZA Discussion Papers 11290, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Fulvio Castellacci & Henrik Schwabe, 2018. "Internet Use and the U-shaped relationship between Age and Well-being," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20180215, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.

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    Keywords

    social participation; online networks; Facebook; social trust; social capital; subjective well-being; hate speech; broadband; digital divide.;

    JEL classification:

    • C36 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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