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Surfing alone? The internet and social capital: Evidence from an unforeseeable technological mistake

Stefan Bauernschuster, Oliver Falck () and Ludger Woessmann ()

Journal of Public Economics, 2014, vol. 117, issue C, 73-89

Abstract: Does the Internet undermine social capital, such as real-world inter-personal relations and civic engagement? Merging unique telecommunication data with geo-coded German individual-level data, we investigate how broadband Internet affects social capital. A first identification strategy uses first-differencing to account for unobserved time-invariant individual heterogeneity. A second identification strategy exploits a quasi-experiment in East Germany created by a mistaken technology choice of the state-owned telecommunication provider in the 1990s that hindered broadband Internet roll-out for many households. We find no evidence of negative effects of the Internet on several aspects of social capital. In fact, the effect on a composite social capital index is significantly positive.

Keywords: Internet; Social capital (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Z13 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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Related works:
Working Paper: Surfing Alone? The Internet and Social Capital: Evidence from an Unforeseeable Technological Mistake (2011) Downloads
Working Paper: Surfing Alone? The Internet and Social Capital: Evidence from an Unforeseeable Technological Mistake (2011) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:117:y:2014:i:c:p:73-89

DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.05.007

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