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Will Facebook save or destroy social capital? An empirical investigation into the effect of online interactions on trust and networks

  • Fabio Sabatini


  • Francesco Sarracino


Studies in the social capital literature have documented two stylised facts: first, a decline in measures of social participation has occurred in many OECD countries. Second, and more recently, the success of social networking sites (SNSs) has resulted in a steep rise in online social participation. Our study adds to this body of research by conducting the first empirical assessment of how online networking affects two economically relevant aspects of social capital, i.e. trust and sociability. We find that participation in SNSs such as Facebook and Twitter has a positive effect on face to face interactions. However, social trust decreases with online interactions. Several interpretations of these findings are discussed.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 692.

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Date of creation: Dec 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:692
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  7. Sabatini, Fabio & Antoci, Angelo & Sodini, Mauro, 2010. "The Solaria Syndrome: Social Capital in a Growing Hyper-technological Economy," AICCON Working Papers 71-2010, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
  8. Bauernschuster, Stefan & Falck, Oliver & Heblich, Stephan, 2010. "Social capital access and entrepreneurship," Munich Reprints in Economics 20137, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  12. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini & Maurizio Pugno, 2013. "Did the Decline in Social Connections Depress Americans’ Happiness?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 1033-1059, February.
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  17. Fabio Sabatini & Francesca Modena & Ermanno Tortia, 2012. "Do cooperative enterprises create social trust?," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2012_10, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
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